Aug. 8, 2003
New Web Site Launched to Track Bush Presidential Campaign’s Donors, Fundraising Activities and Political Favors
WhiteHouseForSale.org Contains Complete List of Rangers, Pioneers
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Public Citizen, in conjunction with Texans for Public Justice, today launched a new Web site to track the special-interest contributions to President Bush’s 2004 re-election campaign and analyze the record of favoritism, conflicts-of-interest and influence peddling related to those contributions.
The WhiteHouseForSale.org Web site, which is managed by Public Citizen, focuses on Bush’s fundraising activities because he is the only major candidate who has opted out of the public financing system during the primaries. Bush has done so because he believes he can collect at least $200 million during the primary season – nearly five times the amount a candidate who remains in the public financing system can raise and spend.
The interactive Web site is being launched the day before hundreds of Bush’s major fund raisers gather in Crawford, Texas, for a barbecue, pat on the back and pep talk. Public Citizen and Texans for Public Justice are also holding a news conference on Saturday, August 9, at 11 a.m. CDT in Crawford, along the road that many of Bush’s major fund raisers, known as “Rangers” and “Pioneers,” will travel to get to the barbecue. The news conference will be held in front of a 12-foot-tall inflatable replica of the White House with a “White House for Sale” sign hung on it.
“President Bush seems to take great pleasure in his administration’s selling of access and doling out of favors to contributors,” said Frank Clemente, director of Public Citizen’s Congress Watch. “We hope this Web site will help the American public wake up to the auction that’s taking place benefiting the wealthiest Americans and greediest special interests, and demand that it be stopped.”
Much of Bush’s funding will come from wealthy donors and interest groups that bundle $2,000 contributions from many individuals. Those who raise $200,000 this way are designated as “Rangers” by the Bush campaign; those who raise $100,000 are designated as “Pioneers.” There were about 550 Pioneers in Bush’s 2000 campaign. The Ranger category is new for 2004, now that individual donors can double their contributions, and the number of Rangers and Pioneers is expected to grow considerably in the 2004 campaign. Rangers and Pioneers and the interests they represent have much at stake in Washington – legislation, regulations, government contracts and executive branch appointments.
For the site, Texans for Public Justice provided a searchable database of the Rangers and of Pioneers from both the 2004 and 2000 campaigns. The database, available in the Contributors and Paybacks and the Rangers and Pioneers sections, contains each donor’s name, home state, occupation, employer and industry, as well as any federal offices the donor has been appointed to. In the future, the Web site will provide profiles of many of the donors and investigative studies of Bush campaign donors and the favors they have won or sought from the administration. WhiteHouseForSale.org, which will be updated daily, also has:
- A Daily Weblog that summarizes the latest news stories and reports about Bush campaign fundraising activities, donors and political favors.
- A Dash for Cash section that features a “contribution meter” with a running total of how much the Bush campaign has raised, and a comprehensive list of all past and planned Bush fundraisers across the country.
- A Get Involved section that educates and mobilizes the public about significant reforms needed in the presidential public financing system to limit the influence of wealthy donors and special interests. Viewers also may sign up for an e-mail listserv.
- An Understand this Issue section that outlines the history and philosophy of the public financing system, how public financing of presidential campaigns operates and the significant problems with the current campaign finance system, in part exemplified by Bush’s all-time-record campaign fundraising operations.
One of the top industries pouring money into Bush’s re-election effort is the finance industry. According to an analysis by Texans for Public Justice, the finance industry accounts for a third of Bush’s new Pioneers and Rangers who were not part of the 2000 election effort. A separate analysis by Public Citizen shows that six of the biggest names on Wall Street are among Bush’s 68 Rangers and Pioneers in the 2004 campaign.
The Public Citizen analysis also estimates that the personal tax savings from the Bush tax cut that will be reaped by just two Rangers and one Pioneer, each of whom heads a Wall Street firm, total $1.9 million this year. Their firms will also reap a huge financial windfall. The 2003 Bush tax cut, which significantly reduced the dividend tax rate and the capital gains tax rate, was the No. 1 priority of Wall Street firms this year.
Further, if Bush is re-elected, the finance industry has a shot at another long-sought piece of legislation: Social Security privatization. Pushing people into private retirement plans and away from Social Security would be a bonanza for the industry.