Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has consistently won voters with incomes $100,000 and up according to this year’s exit polls. He has struggled, though, with middle class voters. When he says things like “Corporations are people” and “I’m not concerned about the very poor,” it’s no wonder.
The juxtaposition of four upcoming presidential primaries and caucuses the day before Romney holds a New York City fundraiser with dozens of wealthy Americans--including five Forbes 400 members--is a perfect example of why so many find Romney’s wealth, and closeness to other wealthy individuals, a cause for alarm.
On March 13th, Alabama, Mississippi, Hawaii, and American Samoa will hold their presidential primary contests. The next day, Romney will attend a fundraiser at the Waldorf-Astoria in NYC.
Here are some key facts on the co-chairs of the fundraiser (as reported by Politico):
- The five Forbes 400 members listed as co-chairs of the event are worth a combined $25.1 billion.
|Employer||Net Worth (Forbes Rank)|
|John Paulson||Paulson & Company||$12.5 billion (#17)|
|Stephen Schwarzman||Blackstone Group||$5.5 billion (#66)|
|Steve Ross||Related Companies||$3.1 billion (#114)|
|Julian Robertson||Tiger Investments||$2.5 billion, (#166)|
|Marc Rowan||Apollo Global||$1.5 billion (#309)|
- The “poorest” of these billionaires, Apollo Global management's Marc Rowan, is worth an estimated $1.5 billion, which is roughly 39,600 times more than the median family income in Mississippi, a state holding a March 13 primary.
- Seven event co-chairs have already given $2.75 million to the Romney-aligned Restore Our Future super PAC, through January 31, 2012, according to data from the Center for Responsive Politics (CRP).
|Name||Employer||Super PAC Donation|
|Julian Robertson||Tiger Investments||$1,250,000|
|John Paulson||Paulson & Co.||$1,000,000|
|Alex Navab||Kohlberg, Kravis Roberts||$190,000|
|Steve Ross||Related Companies||$100,000|
|Eric Varvel||Credit Suisse||$100,000|
|Marc Rowan||Apollo Global Management||$85,000|
|John Whitehead||Former Deputy U.S. Sec. of State||$25,000|
- It was recently reported that co-chair Stephen Schwarzman made $213.5 million in total compensation in 2011, roughly 4,100 times more than the median U.S. household income. In 2010, while complaining about the Obama administration’s desire to increase taxes on private-equity firms, Schwarzman said, “It’s a war. It’s like when Hitler invaded Poland in 1939.”
- Credit Suisse’s Eric Varvel, both an event co-chair and super PAC donor, recently “set off an email chain seeking donations from subordinates” for Romney’s campaign, that “ended up in the hands of non-U.S. citizens, prompting concerns that it could violate laws barring foreign contributions, according to bank sources.”
- The event will also feature at least three lobbyists—Maria Cino, Patrick Durkin, and Wayne Berman. Cino works for Pfizer, Durkin for Barclay’s Financial, and Berman is the co-chair of Ogilvy Government Relations. Some of his big clients in 2011 included Blackstone Group, Investment Company Institute, PricewaterhouseCoopers, and Visa. These are just a few of Romney’s K Street supporters. “At least 294 registered lobbyists donated a total of at least $401,000 to Mr. Romney through the end of 2011,” according to the New York Times. That includes 16 lobbyist “bundlers” who have raised more than $2 million for Romney.
- The rest of the list is made up mostly of bankers, hedge fund managers, and the like.
Romney’s front-runner status is clearly set – for the wealthy, for Wall Street, and for those who attempt to bend government decisions to benefit themselves at the expense of the rest of us. But his front-runner status is in question among everyone else. The conventional wisdom that Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich’s super PACs have buoyed their campaigns is only half-right. Romney’s big money backers – including those who are flooding his super PAC with six- and seven-figure checks – have maintained his campaign while he has eked out victories against under-financed opponents.
Perhaps that’s why Romney has campaigned on letting individuals and corporations give as much as they want directly to candidates – a wildly unpopular position.
This fundraising event is just another reminder that Romney is the candidate of, by, and for the one percent.
Full list of co-chairs: