Dec. 19, 2003
Bush’s Fundraising Juggernaut Adds 42 New Contributors to List of Rangers and Pioneers for 2004
WhiteHouseForSale.org Web Site Features Searchable Database with Information about 351 Rangers and Pioneers Identified by Bush-Cheney Campaign
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Bush-Cheney re-election campaign’s unprecedented fundraising haul of at least $110 million over the past six months has relied on super-donors – 351 contributors who have attained elite status with the Bush organization, including 42 new bundlers that were disclosed by the campaign yesterday, according to WhiteHouseForSale.org.
WhiteHouseForSale.org, a Web site created by Public Citizen in conjunction with Texans for Public Justice to track contributors to Bush’s 2004 re-election campaign, has posted the names of the new Rangers and Pioneers, along their home states, employers and occupations. The Bush campaign now has 134 Rangers, those fundraisers who bundle at least $200,000 in individual contributions, and 217 Pioneers, who each have brought in at least $100,000. In addition, the campaign has identified three new Mavericks – the title given to fundraisers under age 40 who bring in at least $50,000.
Notables among the newly named rainmakers are Lance Weaver, who is now the second Ranger on the list from credit card giant MBNA America; two new Rangers from Arkansas – financier Warren Stephens and banker J. French Hill, a former top Treasury Department official; Pioneer Stephen Burke, president of Comcast Cable; Verizon CEO and Pioneer Ivan Seidenberg; and Ohio Rep. Rob Portman, chairman of the House Republican Leadership and a Pioneer.
Florida added eight new Rangers and Pioneers – more than any other state – and now trails only Texas among states with the most big-money Bush bundlers. Ohio is home to six new top fundraisers. Idaho, Maine and West Virginia each placed their first Pioneers on the 2004 list. A fully updated chart showing the state-by-state breakdown of Bush’s big backers is available at WhiteHouseForSale.org.
“President Bush’s campaign has already held 92 exclusive, big-ticket fundraisers this year headlined by the president, vice president or first lady,” said Public Citizen President Joan Claybrook. “It seems the only people who can get access to the administration anymore are those bearing big bundles of $2,000 checks. In return, Bush is pushing Congress and the agencies to reward his well-connected donors with tax breaks, subsidies and rollbacks in federal regulations.”
Consider two-time Pioneer Tom Kuhn, president of the Edison Electric Institute, the electric utility industry’s main trade association. In 1999, Kuhn sent a memo to energy industry officials on Bush campaign stationery, reminding them to put his tracking number on their checks “to ensure that our industry is credited.” After the electric utilities pumped $4.8 million into the Bush campaign and related entities, they were quickly given a chance to rewrite major clean air regulations governing coal-fired power plants. Another financial plum for the electric utility industry, repeal of the Public Utility Holding Company Act (PUCHA), is pending in the massive energy bill.
The energy bill, which is currently stalled in the Senate, would also be a boon to repeat Pioneer James “Buck” Harless, a West Virginia coal baron who sits on the board of Massey Energy. The energy bill includes nearly $2 billion to finance questionable “clean coal” technology as well as federal loan guarantees specifically targeted for a West Virginia coal gasification plant owned by Massey. The Bush administration previously rewarded Massey, one of the leading practitioners of mountaintop removal mining, by changing clean water rules to allow the dumping of millions of tons of mining waste in Appalachian valleys and streams.
More of Bush’s biggest campaign donors also are poised to benefit from the $400 billion Medicare bill and the administration’s misguided medical malpractice proposal. Both bills have been vigorously supported by drug manufacturers, insurance companies, HMOs and medical device makers. Health industry representatives new to the ranks of top Bush backers include Ranger Malachi Mixon, chairman of Invacare, a leading maker of wheelchairs and home medical equipment; Pioneer W. Heywood Fralin, CEO of the nursing home chain Medical Facilities of America; and HMO executives Jeffrey L. McWaters of Amerigroup Corp. and David Hart of WellCare, both Pioneers.
“The Bush special-interest juggernaut keeps on rolling,” said Craig McDonald, director of Texans for Public Justice. “It’s smashing all fundraising records and representative government in its path.”
The administration’s track record has attracted hundreds of new favor-seeking fundraisers. In the 2004 campaign, 231 Rangers or Pioneers are new to Bush’s list of big-money bundlers, while 120 were Pioneers in the 2000 election cycle. (The Ranger designation was not used in that campaign.) WhiteHouseForSale.org features an updated, searchable database of all the individuals named Rangers or Pioneers by the Bush campaign in 2004 and 2000, as well as a comprehensive list of past and future campaign fundraising events.
Twenty-two individuals previously recognized as Pioneers have moved up to Ranger status. Among those surpassing the $200,000 mark are Dwight H. Evans, a top Southern Co. executive; John Mack, CEO of Credit Suisse First Boston; Edward Whitacre, CEO of SBC Communications; Keith Weikel, an executive at HCR ManorCare; Dr. Munir Kazmir, president of Direct Meds Inc.; and Robert J. Congel of DestiNY USA, who secured a special tax break of his own in the energy bill to help build the country’s largest shopping mall.
Bush may collect as much as $200 million prior to the Republican National Convention – more than four times the amount a candidate who remains in the public financing system can raise and spend. “If we want to start having presidential elections instead of presidential auctions, we need to fix the presidential public financing system,” said Frank Clemente, director of Public Citizen’s Congress Watch.