Bush Campaign Raises A Record $49.5 Million

*For their efforts, fundraisers also gain

By Thomas B. Edsall and Sarah Cohen, Washington Post Staff Writers

President Bush's reelection campaign yesterday reported raising $49.5 million in the third quarter, a decisive record for a three-month period. Since launching his fundraising effort in May, Bush has collected $83.9 million.

The record receipts -- more than triple the top Democrat's fundraising for the quarter -- were driven in large part by just 285 men and women, who collected $38.5 million or more, which was at least 45 percent of Bush's total take. This fundraising elite, many of whom were beneficiaries of Bush administration policies, included 100 "Rangers," who raised at least $200,000 apiece, and 185 "Pioneers," who collected at least $100,000 each.

Such high-powered fundraisers have become crucially important in the current election cycle because the 2002 McCain-Feingold campaign finance law prohibits individuals, companies and unions from giving large "soft money" contributions to federal candidates or parties. This has put a premium on men and women who can collect large amounts from individuals, who can give no more than $2,000 apiece.

The GOP, with extensive support from corporate chief executives, trade association leaders and others with a ready network of employees, members or associates, has developed a far stronger small-donor fundraising base than the Democrats. Former Vermont governor Howard Dean has demonstrated the potential power of the Internet as a fundraising tool, but the $14.8 million he is expected to report for the third quarter is dwarfed by Bush's total.

Bush has the advantage of incumbency, which, in 1995, paid off for President Bill Clinton, who collected $9.95 million in the third quarter of that year, compared with the $5.5 million raised by Bob Dole, the eventual Republican nominee. But even as a non-incumbent, Bush raised $29.5 million in the second quarter of 1999, when he was still seeking his party's nomination.

On Wall Street, major Bush fundraisers include Stan O'Neal of Merrill Lynch & Co., whose employees had already given more than $280,000 as of the end of June; Stephen M. Lessing of Lehman Brothers Inc., who raised $159,000; Joseph Grano and James P. MacGilvray of UBS Paine Webber, who raised $88,000; John J. Mack of Credit Suisse First Boston, who raised $124,000; and James E. Cayne of Bear Stearns Cos., who raised $137,000. The totals were based on data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics.

All told, there are at least 37 Rangers and Pioneers from the finance industry, which has been vocal in its support for the Bush administration's economic program, particularly the tax cuts.

Asked what the Bush administration has done for investment banking and the securities industry generally, James Spellman, spokesman for the Securities Industry Association, mentioned, "first and most important, the tax reduction in dividend income and capital gains" These cuts, he said, have "generated more interest in equity investments."

In addition, increasing the maximum allowed contribution to IRA and 401(k) accounts and legislation creating education savings accounts have, together with the cuts, encouraged significant "portfolio reconfiguration," Spellman said

Leading fundraisers on Bush's list, such as Pioneer Dirk Van Dongen of the National Association of Wholesalers-Distributors, routinely advise the White House on business and tax matters. Bush's Pioneers include many prominent Washington figures, such as Bush strategist and former Christian Coalition director Ralph Reed, as well as lobbyists Jack Abramoff, Wayne Berman and Lanny Griffith. Former senators Rudy Boschwitz (R-Minn.), Alfonse M. D'Amato (R-N.Y.) and John C. Danforth (R-Mo.) are on the list, as is former representative Tillie Fowler (R-Fla.).

The power and energy industries, which the Bush administration has supported repeatedly with both legislative and regulatory initiatives over the objections of environmental groups, have produced at least 14 Rangers and Pioneers.

The Bush administration "has been really good for the industry and really good for the nation," said Joe F. Colvin, president of the Nuclear Energy Institute. In addition to leading the fight for the creation of a nuclear waste depository at Nevada's Yucca Mountain facility, the administration has recognized the importance of nuclear power in energy generation, Colvin said.

Bill Brier, vice president for policy and public affairs at the Edison Electric Institute, said: "We are now poised on the brink of the first comprehensive energy policy for over a decade." Brier cited proposals for enhancing the nation's electric transmission infrastructure and eliminating legal and regulatory barriers "to modern competitive electric markets." He praised the administration's policy initiatives on power plant emissions.

The list of Rangers and Pioneers includes at least 25 executives in the real estate and construction industries.

Dennis Day, communications director of the Associated General Contractors of America, said that, under the Bush administration, "we have enjoyed a seat at the table before burdensome regulations came out, and we were able to shape those regulations to make them more palatable to the industry."

On a scale of 1 to 10, Day rated the Bush administration as a 7 or an 8, compared with the Clinton administration, to which he gave a 3. The Clinton years produced "very burdensome regulation; there was no seat at the table, no asking how this will affect you," Day said. "It has dramatically changed with this administration."

Day and other officials of associations representing business interests cited as particularly important to their members the elimination of the estate tax. With the administration's backing, Congress passed legislation that will end the tax in 2010.

The geographic distribution of Bush's elite Rangers suggests that Bush's most faithful source of funds is the donor network he established in his home state of Texas, where he served nearly two terms as governor, and the one built in Florida by his brother Jeb, now in his second term as governor there. Of the 100 Rangers, 14 are from Florida and 12 from Texas, followed by 11 from California, eight from New York, six from Ohio, five each from Tennessee and Indiana, and four from Illinois.

One northeastern family, the Egans of Massachusetts, single-handedly raised at least $600,000 for Bush. Richard Egan, the billionaire founder of data storage company EMC Corp., and sons Christopher and Michael are all listed as Rangers.

Staff writer Dana Milbank and researchers Lucy Shackelford and Madonna Lebling contributed to this report.

© 2003 The Washington Post Company


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