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John Kerry Relies on 182 Elite Fundraisers to Compete with President Bush’s Fundraising Machine

March 23, 2004

John Kerry Relies on 182 Elite Fundraisers to Compete with
President Bush’s Fundraising Machine


WhiteHouseForSale.org Web Site Features Searchable Database With Information About Rainmakers Who Have Brought in at Least $12 Million for Kerry


WASHINGTON, D.C. – Trying to compete with the president’s massive campaign war chest – which is already bulging with $170 million – Sen. John Kerry has taken a page from the Team Bush playbook. First, Kerry opted out of the presidential public financing system. Now, he has recruited his own regiment of 182 rainmakers to collect campaign cash.

The Kerry campaign has eschewed catchy titles – no “Rangers” or “Pioneers” for them. But they have released the names of 59 “vice chairs,” who have raised at least $100,000, and 123 “co-chairs,” who have gathered at least $50,000. At a minimum, these elite fundraisers have accounted for $12 million – or nearly 35 percent – of Kerry’s total fundraising, according to a Public Citizen analysis.

The latest report filed with the Federal Election Commission shows that Kerry had raised $35 million as of Feb. 29, in addition to $6.4 million the senator loaned his campaign after taking out a mortgage on one of his homes. According to the FEC report – which was filed before Kerry secured the Democratic nomination in March – Kerry had $2.4 million in cash on hand. Bush, who faced no opponent in the primary, had $110 million in the bank.

“It’s regrettable that our presidential election has been turned into a campaign fundraising arms race,” said Public Citizen President Joan Claybrook. “Once President Bush opted out of the public financing system and began his dash for cash across the country, his Democratic opponent followed suit. While Kerry’s campaign chest is dwarfed by Bush’s arsenal, it’s disappointing that the senator has been forced to rely on similar fundraising tactics instead of the presidential public financing system.”

WhiteHouseForSale.org, a Web site created by Public Citizen to track contributors to 2004 presidential candidates, has updated its searchable database of Kerry’s elite fundraisers with their home states, employers, occupations and industries. Since Kerry last released the names of his top contributors in mid-October, the campaign has added 12 new “vice chairs” and 67 new “co-chairs.”

Fifty-five Kerry bundlers hail from California – more than double the number from any other state. Other top states are Massachusetts (25) and New York (20) as well as the District of Columbia (17). An updated chart showing the number of Kerry bundlers per state is available on the Web site.

The ranks of Kerry’s elite fundraisers include 22 trial lawyers – who have raised at least $1.75 million – including newly minted vice chairs Jeremy Alters of Florida, Kathleen Flynn Peterson of Minnesota and Richard Scruggs of Mississippi. The financial services sector – which has provided more of Bush’s top fundraisers than any other industry – also is well-represented on Kerry’s list. Kerry’s top fundraisers include 29 bankers, stockbrokers and wealthy private investors, who have collected at least $2.2 million so far. Among the notable names disclosed by the Kerry campaign this month are “vice chair” Blair Effron, a vice chairman of UBS Americas, as well as “co-chairs” David D’Allesandro of John Hancock Financial Services, Derek Kirkland of Morgan Stanley, and Chad Gifford of FleetBoston – who is poised to become chairman of Bank of America once the merger between the two companies is completed.

Several Democratic politicians have collected checks for Kerry, such as California state Treasurer Phil Angelides, St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay and New Mexico Lt. Gov. Diane Denish. Other notables on the Kerry list include Northern Califonia power-brokers Clint and Janet Reilly, Staples Inc. CEO Thomas Stemberg and Bernard Schwartz, chairman and CEO of Loral Space and Communications – a major Democratic giver who was investigated during the Clinton administration for allegedly aiding China’s development of a ballistic missile program. A chart showing the minimum amount raised by Kerry from key industries also is available at WhiteHouseForSale.org.

Eighteen bundlers who had previously been listed as $50,000 contributors in October have since crossed the $100,000 mark. In addition, five bundlers previously listed among the vice chairs have been moved down with the lower-level bundlers. Without explanation, the names of 22 Kerry bundlers listed in October as collecting $50,000 for the campaign have disappeared from the list including Viacom Entertainment Chairman Jonathan Dolgen, film director William Friedkin and Fred Hochberg, the head of the Small Business Administration under President Clinton.

Unlike Bush, the Kerry campaign did not release the home states of its major donors, making them much more difficult to identify. (Home states were unable to be determined for 13 donors.) Moreover, the Kerry campaign’s announcement is hidden on its Web site, whereas Bush’s site provides a direct link to the names of major donors on its home page.

“We’re pleased the Kerry campaign has finally updated the names of its top fundraisers,” said Frank Clemente, director of Public Citizen’s Congress Watch. “But the list they’ve produced can hardly be characterized as full disclosure. The Bush campaign, by comparison, has done a much better job of making public and regularly updating its list of bundlers.”

So far, Bush has identified 455 “Rangers” and “Pioneers,” who have collected at least $64.2 million for his campaign – 40 percent of what he had raised as of the end of February. Unlike Kerry, Bush does not release the names of his $50,000 bundlers unless they are under age 40. Full coverage of the Bush campaign is also available at WhiteHouseForSale.org.

Press accounts estimate that Kerry has raised another $14 million over the Internet since early March. And the senator is set to embark on a 20-city fundraising tour next week, which aims to bring in another $15 million to $20 million.

“Only a comprehensive public financing system,” Claybrook said, “will save us from the mutually assured destruction of our democracy.”