Old Money

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Primaries may be seeing record turnouts and voter registration drives may be going full tilt, but inside congressional and presidential campaigns alike a sustained efforts is underway to lock up the same big money from the same power players which makes you wonder if the debate's ever going to change.

First, the news that despite the recent nail-biting quarters for the financial industry, they're still shoveling money into campaigns as fast as they can, perhaps hoping to forestall regulations that could slice into their profit margins.


The banking houses that are the source of much of the economic misery we're currently experiencing were not only generous to the failed candidacy of Chris Dodd. They're heavily invested in the careers of all three frontrunners, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and John McCain.

Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup and Morgan Stanley have been among the top 20 contributors to all three senators during their political careers. Goldman Sachs is the biggest donor, ranking first on the list of top contributors to both Obama and Clinton and third to McCain.

Since 1989, Goldman Sachs has contributed $265,000 to Dodd and $211,000 to McCain, but in a shorter period, it has given $535,000 to Obama and $707,000 to Clinton. The other Wall Street firms are not far behind, giving six figures to each of the would-be next presidents.

And while the frontrunners split the difference on industry cash, Sen. John McCain goes looking to harvest George W. Bush's list of donors so as to convene around the high-dollar fundraising table the same folks who always get a seat. He's not reeling them all in yet, but with the constant attention paid to his fundraising numbers as compared to his Democratic rivals means he'll need to devote considerable campaign time and resources towards locking in the money to escape the narrative that his campaign is struggling financially (and, by association, in popularity):


The McCain campaign is also rolling out its own version of a Pioneers and Rangers program, offering the title of Trailblazer to anyone who raises at least $100,000 and Innovator to those who collect more than $250,000. Campaign officials are also in the midst of selecting state chairmen and assigning them fund-raising goals.

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“They’re calling up the old network, and we’re all plugging in,” said Matt Fong, a former California state treasurer and 2000 and 2004 Bush Pioneer who had not committed to any candidate until he agreed to help with the Bel Air event. “It’s late, but it’s happening.”