[DEBATE] : (Fwd) US capitalists zigzag again to Dems
pbond at mail.ngo.za
Sat Sep 22 06:40:58 BST 2007
CEOs, Bush Rangers Rebuff Republicans on War, Widening
Deficit Michael Janofsky
Fri Sep 21, 12:16 AM ET
Sept. 21 (Bloomberg) -- Dozens of corporate executives
who backed President George W. Bush for re-election in
2004, including some of his top fund-raisers, are now
helping Democrats running for president.
John Mack, chief executive officer of Morgan Stanley,
Rupert Murdoch, chairman of News Corp., and Terry
Semel, chairman of Yahoo! Inc., are among some 60
executives writing checks to Democrats such as
Senators Hillary Clinton of New York and Barack Obama
of Illinois, a review of U.S. Federal Election
Commission records shows.
While the vast majority of business leaders still back
Republicans for 2008, the stature of some of those
donating to Democrats suggests that support may be
eroding, seven years into the Bush presidency. Some
executives expressed concern over Republican positions
on issues ranging from the war in Iraq and stem-cell
research to global warming and the fiscal deficit.
The shift in political-spending patterns is ``very
unusual,'' says Fred Wertheimer, president of
Democracy 21, a Washington-based group that advocates
``Normally, if you have dissatisfaction with the
administration, you figure out who in your own party
you'll support in the next election,'' he says. ``You
don't look at other parties.''
The Democratic victory in last November's
congressional elections may have also sparked greater
interest in the party. ``Money tends to follow people
who have power,'' Wertheimer says.
Bush sounded unconcerned yesterday that he might
adversely affect Republican chances next year. Asked
at a White House news conference if he were ``an asset
or liability'' to members of his party seeking
election, he replied, ``Strong asset.''
Nonetheless, some of his strongest supporters are
wavering -- or at least hedging their bets.
Sig Rogich, president of Rogich Communications Group
in Las Vegas, raised at least $200,000 for Bush in
2004, earning the campaign's designation of
``Ranger.'' This year, Rogich gave $2,300 to Governor
Bill Richardson of New Mexico, a Democrat, and $4,600
to Senator John McCain of Arizona, a Republican,
according to the most recent election records, which
go through June 30.
``Conservatives have two hard-core beliefs,'' says
Rogich. ``They favor lower taxes and lower spending.''
Federal spending is ``the highest in the history of
the nation,'' he says.
Morgan Stanley's Mack, another of Bush's Rangers, held
a fund-raiser for Clinton, a New York senator, in
`Beyond Party Labels'
``When it comes to supporting a political candidate, I
have always looked beyond party labels to the person I
felt was best for the job and most able to lead the
country forward,'' Mack wrote to executives of the New
York-based company in June, explaining his choice. ``I
personally believe that person is Hillary Clinton.''
Murdoch, who donated $25,000 to the Republican
National Committee in 2004, has given Clinton $2,300.
Semel of Sunnyvale, California-based Yahoo!, who gave
$2,000 to Bush in 2004 and $50,000 to the Republican
National Committee, has given the maximum, $4,600, to
Clinton and $2,300 to Obama.
The Republican National Committee says executives will
continue to overwhelmingly back the party, citing its
candidates' stances on issues such as cutting taxes
and curbing lawsuits.
``We fully expect our nominee to have the resources to
run a successful campaign,'' says Dan Ronayne, a
spokesman for the RNC.
Through the latest FEC reporting period, the three
leading Democrats -- Clinton, Obama and former North
Carolina Senator John Edwards -- out-raised the three
leading Republicans -- former Massachusetts Governor
Mitt Romney, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani
and McCain, $145.2 million to $103.3 million.
Spokesmen for Romney and the latest Republican to
enter the field, former Senator Fred Thompson of
Tennessee, say they're also confident of their
``We're very happy with the level of giving from
individuals in the private sector,'' says Romney
spokesman Eric Fehrnstrom. Among executives who have
donated to Romney are Richard Farmer, chairman of
Cintas Corp. of Cincinnati, the largest U.S. uniform
supplier, and Ray Irani, chairman of Los Angeles-based
Occidental Petroleum Corp., the fourth-largest U.S.
Spokesmen for Giuliani and McCain didn't return calls
Mack, Murdoch and Semel declined to discuss their
political choices. Tom Nides, chief administrative
officer for Morgan Stanley, agreed to read aloud parts
of Mack's letter.
Most of the executives declined requests to comment
through spokesmen, saying the donations reflect
Jeffrey Volk, a managing director at Citigroup in New
York, was an exception. He says he grew disenchanted
with Republicans after the federal government failed
to provide more help to the Gulf region after
Hurricane Katrina in 2005. He says he remains a
Republican, although he's supporting Clinton.
``It was absolutely inconceivable to me that after
9/11 another catastrophe could hit a major American
city, and the United States government was not
prepared,'' he says.
John Canning, a deputy board chairman of the Federal
Reserve Bank in Chicago and CEO of Madison Dearborn
Partners LLC, expressed similar misgivings.
A Bush Pioneer in 2004 who has given Obama $2,300, he
described the Republican Party in an April interview
as ``neanderthal'' for its positions on stem-cell
research and global warming. He says he liked Obama's
opposition to the war in Iraq and his approach to
reducing greenhouse gases.
Not On `Same Page'
``I no longer find myself on the same page,'' he says
The Bush administration opposes more federal spending
on human embryonic stem-cell research. On global
warming, the administration has been criticized by
scientists for a slow response to evidence of climate
Elaine Wynn, who has donated to Republicans in
previous cycles along with her husband, Steve Wynn,
chairman and CEO of Wynn Resorts Ltd. in Las Vegas, is
serving as a member of the Obama campaign ``steering
committee'' in Nevada.
Wynn, whose husband is a trustee of former President
George H.W. Bush's presidential library, says she grew
weary of two decades of leadership under two President
Bushes and President Bill Clinton, with the
possibility of another Clinton ahead.
``That's a big chunk of my life overseen by two
families,'' she says. ``I'd like to think this is a
broad country with more people to weigh in.''
She says she remains a Republican yet was attracted to
Obama more by seeing young adults drawn to him, rather
than any disenchantment with the current president.
``I jumped on their bandwagon,'' she says.
Gerald Keim, associate dean of MBA programs at Arizona
State University who has written extensively on
corporate political activity, says executives would
have little to gain by discussing their political
preferences because shareholders and customers might
not hold the same views.
``Most of this is very pragmatic,'' Keim says. ``This
is about having relationships so an executive can have
a voice heard on issues that affect the current or
future operations of their companies.''
Number Will Grow
Keim says the number of Republican business leaders
supporting Democrats will ``absolutely grow as it
becomes clear who the Democrat nominee is.''
Among others who have already given are Richard Kelly
of Xcel Energy Inc. of Minneapolis, who donated $1,000
to Bush last time and has given $2,000 to Richardson.
Raymond Mason of Legg Mason Inc. in Baltimore gave
Bush $2,000 in the last cycle and Christopher Dodd of
Connecticut, a Democrat and chairman of the Senate
Banking Committee, $2,300 this cycle.
Other former Rangers and Pioneers helping Democrats
are Lance Weaver, vice chairman of FIA Card Services,
who gave $4,600 to Senator Joseph Biden of Delaware,
and Robert Congel, senior managing director of Pyramid
Cos., who gave Clinton $4,600. Neither responded to
requests for an interview.
Richard Notebaert, who recently retired as CEO of
Denver- based Qwest Communications International Inc.,
contributed $25,000 to the Republican National
Committee in 2004 and thousands more to candidates in
both parties. This cycle, he has given Richardson and
McCain $2,300 each.
He called Richardson ``a good man'' and McCain ``an
outstanding individual'' but says it was still too
early to choose sides.
To contact the reporter on this story: Michael
Janofsky in Los Angeles at mjanofsky at bloomberg.net
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