Nov. 13, 2003
Mission Half-Accomplished: Bush’s “Dash for Cash Tour” to Top $100 Million After Two Florida Fundraisers Today
WhiteHouseForSale.org Web Site Tracks Record Presidential Fundraising Drive and Monitors Paybacks to Wealthy Special Interests and Corporate Contributors
WASHINGTON, D.C. – With the presidential election still a year away, President Bush’s fundraising total is expected to surpass $100 million today after a campaign swing through Florida. The $2,000-a-person fundraisers in Orlando and Fort Myers are the latest in a series of exclusive, big-ticket events nationwide that have provided the vast majority of the Bush-Cheney campaign’s unprecedented fundraising haul.
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. Even though the president faces no opposition in the primaries, the campaign has now raised more money than it did during the entire 2000 presidential primaries, according to WhiteHouseForSale.org.
Bush already has headlined four million-dollar fundraisers this year in Florida, where the campaign has raked in nearly $7 million. Today’s events are expected to rack up another $2 million, capping a week that included nine other fundraisers across the country featuring Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney or First Lady Laura Bush.
“President Bush claims the political season hasn’t started, yet his campaign already has held at least 75 fundraisers,” said Frank Clemente, director of Public Citizen’s Congress Watch, which operates WhiteHouseForSale.org. “Bush may be only halfway to his outrageous fundraising goal, but he has already accomplished his mission of destroying the presidential public financing system.”
Public Citizen, a national consumer group with nearly 6,000 Florida members, launched the WhiteHouseForSale.org Web site to track contributors to Bush’s 2004 re-election fund, particularly those dubbed “Rangers” and “Pioneers” for steering hundreds of thousands of dollars toward the campaign. The Web site features an updated, searchable database of all the individuals named Rangers or Pioneers by the Bush campaign.
So far, 100 individuals have been identified as Rangers, those fundraisers who bundle together at least $200,000 in individual contributions. Fourteen of them are from Florida – more than from any other state. The list includes former Gov. Bob Martinez and Al Hoffman, finance chairman of the Republican National Committee, who is hosting one of today’s events at his Fort Myers home.
Another 185 donors nationwide, including 12 Floridians, have been anointed Pioneers for bundling $100,000. In the last election, 27 individuals from Florida pledged to raise at least $100,000 for the Bush-Cheney campaign, although Bush did not confirm whether they raised the full amount. At least five of the rainmakers from 2000 were from Orlando, including attorney C. David Brown, construction executive Jeff Fuqua and Amway founder Richard M. Devos. More will likely join the ranks of Bush’s top fundraisers for 2004 after today’s fundraisers. Information about all of the donors from the 2004 and 2000 campaigns is at www.WhiteHouseForSale.org.
“This elite group understands the value of having special status with the administration,” said Clemente. “The Rangers and Pioneers expect million-dollar tax breaks, weakened environmental regulations and other goodies in return for their largesse.”
And Bush delivers. Consider just a few examples of the administration’s track record:
- After the energy industry contributed $20.5 million to the Bush campaign and the Republican National Committee in the 2000 election, industry executives and lobbyists met secretly with Cheney to write U.S. energy policy. The result: a plan to subsidize the construction of dangerous and expensive nuclear power plants, eliminate utility ratepayer protections and allow oil and gas drilling in America’s pristine wilderness areas.
- Companies such as Southern Co. and FirstEnergy faced U.S. Environmental Protection Agency lawsuits for Clean Air Act violations that would have forced them to improve their pollution controls or pay huge fines. In 2000, coal-fired electric utilities pumped $4.8 million into the Bush campaign and related entities. They got what they paid for: The Bush administration gutted a crucial clean air rule, which the companies had been accused of violating, and dropped dozens of investigations against polluters.
- Four of the top five companies supporting Bush in 2004 are Wall Street firms. The financial industry’s outpouring of support stems primarily from the Bush administration’s industry-friendly tax policies, which slashed dividend and capital gains tax cuts. These cuts not only were skewed to benefit the industry’s richest customers, but Wall Street CEOs themselves stood to personally save hundreds of thousands – if not millions – of dollars.
The Bush-Cheney fundraising juggernaut shows no signs of slowing down; seven more fundraisers are scheduled before Thanksgiving in New York, Ohio, Arizona and Nevada. “Bush has turned this election into an auction,” said Clemente. “We need to overhaul the presidential public financing system so that politicians listen to average citizens instead of wealthy corporate interests.”