By Peter Schroeder - 01/10/12 06:41 PM EST
His 2008 GOP opponent for the White House, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), came in second, receiving an election-year windfall of $839,525 from organizations and people tied to the industry.
Of the remaining top 10, Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) was the only other Republican to receive large amounts of private-equity cash.
Given New York's status as home of the nation's financial center, the Democratic delegation of the state is represented well on the list. Former Sen. Hillary Clinton came in third, followed by Sens. Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand. Other influential Democrats also received substantial donations from the industry, including Sen. John Kerry (Mass.), former Sen. Chris Dodd (Conn.) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (Nev.).
Reid's Republican counterpart, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), comes in at number 11.
The analysis comes as Democrats have joined competing GOP candidates in bashing Romney for his time at Bain. Seeking to take advantage of Romney saying on Monday that he "likes being able to fire people" in the context of remarks on healthcare coverage, the Democratic National Committee hosted a press call Monday with a former employee of a company taken over by Bain.
DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) accused Romney of "creating wealth on the backs of American workers by laying them off and shipping their jobs overseas." She received $21,000 from PACs or individuals tied to private equity over that same timeframe, good for 194th on the list, according to Maplight.
The pressure on Romney has driven the private-equity industry into the political fight. The Private Equity Growth Capital Council issued a statement Monday accusing both parties of spreading "misinformation" about the industry and argued that private equity firms play a key role in the economy — and that their takeovers of companies can "often" lead to growth and job creation, not layoffs.