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Bush Fundraising Machine Relies on Big-Dollar Donors, as New Names Swell the Ranks of Rangers and Pioneers

Oct. 16, 2003

Bush Fundraising Machine Relies on Big-Dollar Donors,
as New Names Swell the Ranks of Rangers and Pioneers


WhiteHouseForSale.org Web Site Features Searchable Database
With Information on New Rangers and Pioneers


WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Bush-Cheney re-election campaign’s unprecedented $84 million fundraising effort over four months shows a dramatic reliance on super-donors – 285 contributors who attained elite status with the Bush organization, according to WhiteHouseForSale.org. Analysis of newly released Federal Election Commission (FEC) data reveals that the campaign raised more than 80 percent of its funds via large individual donations – most of which were raised at exclusive, big-ticket events across the country.

The 2004 Bush campaign named 217 Rangers and Pioneers in the most recent three-month reporting period, adding to the 68 individuals who were identified in July. Of the 285 total, 100 individuals are Rangers, those fundraisers who bundle together at least $200,000 in individual contributions, and 185 donors have been anointed Pioneers for bundling $100,000. In addition, the campaign has named 20 Mavericks – a new honorary title for junior rainmakers under age 40 who bring in at least $50,000.

In the 2004 campaign, 178 Rangers or Pioneers are completely new to Bush’s list of big-money bundlers, while 107 were Pioneers in the 2000 election cycle. (The Ranger designation was not used in that campaign.)

“The list of Bush’s elite money men is a who’s who of special interests,” said Craig McDonald, director of Texans for Public Justice. “This group wants more tax breaks, more pollution and less consumer protection in the financial marketplace.”

Public Citizen, in conjunction with Texans for Public Justice, launched the WhiteHouseForSale.org Web site to track contributors to Bush’s 2004 re-election campaign.

“The president claims to be focused on the people’s business, but the only people who can afford to see him are from big corporations and other wealthy special interests,” said Joan Claybrook, president of Public Citizen. “These big donors expect a return on their investment – legislative favors, loosened regulations, lucrative federal contracts and plum presidential appointments at home and abroad.”

WhiteHouseForSale.org features an updated, searchable database of Rangers and Pioneers, containing each donor’s name, home state, employer, occupation, industry and fundraising status, as well as any federal appointments they have received.

According to an analysis of FEC data by Public Citizen, 73 percent of Bush’s $83.9 million in total fundraising for 2004 has come via $2,000 donations – the maximum individual contribution allowed under law. Nearly 86 percent of the campaign’s cash is from donations of $1,000 and up. Campaign officials have acknowledged that more than $70 million has been raised at events headlined by President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and First Lady Laura Bush. Since June, the campaign has held at least 56 fundraisers in 34 states, according to WhiteHouseForSale.org.

The 2004 Bush campaign has identified Rangers and Pioneers representing 12 specific special-interest categories tracked by the WhiteHouseForSale.org search engine – with the greatest concentrations coming from among the financial sector, lawyers and lobbyists, the insurance industry and energy interests. Rangers and Pioneers hail from 45 states and Washington, D.C. States with the greatest numbers are Texas (39), California (28), Florida (26), New York (24), Ohio and Illinois (15 each). [See Figure 1]

The administration has a track record of handing out key appointments and special favors to its biggest financial supporters. At least 36 Rangers or Pioneers have received federal appointments. Click here to view a fact sheet detailing some items from the wish lists of Rangers and Pioneers – as well as the numbers of Rangers and Pioneers per state and the names of super-donors who have received federal appointments.

The $49.5 million the Bush campaign raised in the past three months alone is more than the $45 million that participants in the public financing system are allowed to raise and spend during the entire primary season. Yet Bush has not slowed the fundraising juggernaut. He headlined a pair of fundraisers Wednesday in California, raking in more than $1.75 million. Cheney is scheduled for two more events today in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Those events should push the campaign total well over the $86 million mark, according to WhiteHouseForSale.org.

“Public policy should not be dictated by the highest bidders,” Claybrook said. “That’s why we need to overhaul the presidential public financing system so that politicians listen to average citizens instead of paying back their biggest contributors.”