Day After Mississippi Primary, Mitt Romney Raising Money from NYC Billionaires

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Washington, D.C.— Next Tuesday Mitt Romney hopes to pull in enough votes to win the Mississippi primary, but his focus is likely to be on the major fundraising event scheduled for the following day with Wall Street CEOs in Manhattan. New analysis by watchdog Public Campaign Action Fund found that at least two of the co-hosts of Romney’s event have, on their own, donated more to his super PAC, “Restore Our Future,” than he’s taken in from residents of Mississippi.

“These back-to-back events – looking for votes in Mississippi and then for big money in New York City – capture the crazy campaign finance system to a ‘T’,” said David Donnelly, executive director of Public Campaign Action Fund. “Voters in Mississippi may be casting their votes Tuesday, but they’ve been inundated with advertising, mail, and phone calls financed by the same Wall Street CEOs Mitt Romney will see the following day. It’s hard to serve the people when you’re in debt to the funders.”

The analysis by PCAF reviewed the co-chairs of the event at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York City on March 14th and found that it includes five Forbes 400 billionaires.

Some additional key facts:

  • Five Forbes 400 members are listed as co-chairs of the event, worth a combined $25.1 billion. That’s roughly 3.1 times more than the 2010 household incomes of Mississippi’s ten largest cities combined, or $25.1 billion to $8 billion.*

Name

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)
  • Mississippians have given $198,130 in donations of $200 or more to Romney’s campaign this cycle, according to the Center for Responsive Politics (CRP). Two of Wednesday’s co-chairs have already each given more than five times that amount to the Romney-aligned super PAC. Seven co-chairs are donors to his super PAC.
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
  • Fundraiser co-chair Stephen Schwarzman made $213.5 million in total compensation in 2011, roughly 5,600 times more than the median Mississippi household income. While criticizing the Obama administration’s desire to increase taxes on private-equity firms, Schwarzman said in 2010, “It’s a war. It’s like when Hitler invaded Poland in 1939.”
  • 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 though. “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 co-chair list is made up mostly of bankers, hedge fund managers, and the like.

“If money talks in politics, Romney’s donations from the country’s richest people are screaming through a megaphone, said Donnelly. “This fundraising event is just another reminder that Romney is the candidate of, by, and for the one percent.”

*This was calculated using 2010 U.S. Census data, multiplying the number of households in each of the 10 cities times the median household income in each city.

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Public Campaign Action Fund works to hold politicians who are against comprehensive campaign finance reform accountable for where they get their political donations. Learn more at www.campaignmoney.org.