Top CEOs give 10 times more to McCain than to Obama

The top executives of America’s biggest companies are more willing to open their wallets for John McCainJohn Sidney McCainCindy McCain endorses Biden: He's only candidate 'who stands up for our values' Biden says Cindy McCain will endorse him Biden's six best bets in 2016 Trump states MORE than his Democratic rival, donating 10 times as much to the Arizona senator’s campaign as to Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaMichelle Obama and Jennifer Lopez exchange Ginsburg memories Pence defends Trump's 'obligation' to nominate new Supreme Court justice The militia menace MORE’s.

Obama’s campaign seized on the findings of The Hill’s review of campaign finance records to suggest that the gap was due to “special favors” McCain has given corporations.


The presumptive GOP nominee has received $208,200 from the chief executive officers of the 100 biggest Fortune 500 corporations, according to a review of campaign finance reports. Obama has taken in $20,400 from the same group of people.

“It is not surprising that a Washington celebrity like John McCain would be able to collect contributions based on 26 years of special favors provided to individual businesses,” said Jason FurmanJason FurmanOn The Money: Five things to know about the August jobs report Dates — and developments — to watch as we enter the home stretch In surprise, unemployment rate falls, economy adds jobs MORE, Obama’s economic policy director.

The McCain campaign hit back, saying it makes sense that business leaders would support a nominee whose policies would promote economic growth.

“It shouldn’t be a surprise that John McCain’s plan to cut taxes, fight wasteful spending and grow jobs is preferred by business leaders and hardworking families both,” said spokesman Tucker Bounds. “It’s also no surprise that Barack Obama doesn’t have a record of doing any of those things — celebrities don’t cut taxes, they take beach vacations.”

But in a McCain television ad that began airing May 29, the narrator says McCain will "make … corporate CEOs accountable."

Obama is shattering fundraising records and has significantly outraised McCain. Federal Election Commission records show that through June the Illinois senator raised more money from donations of less than $200 than his rival has raised in total.

The Democrat became the first candidate to opt out of public funding for the general election since campaign finance rules were tightened in the aftermath of Watergate. Obama cited these small donations to justify his decision to back away from earlier assertions that he would accept the public funds.

During an Aug. 4 conference call on small businesses and economic policy, Obama surrogate Rep. Nydia Velázquez (D-N.Y.) hit McCain for his ties to business. “His agenda primarily benefits big business,” Velázquez said. “It really is a laundry list for corporate America.”

In 2004, the difference between the Republican and the Democratic candidates was much less pronounced in terms of Fortune 100 donations. Sen. John KerryJohn Forbes KerryThe Memo: Warning signs flash for Trump on debates Divided country, divided church TV ads favored Biden 2-1 in past month MORE (D-Mass.) nearly kept pace with President Bush.

Among the same 100 individuals, the vast majority of whom were in their current positions in 2004, Kerry raised nearly three-quarters of what Bush did. Kerry brought in $74,500 from the business leaders, while Bush raised $103,200. The difference between the Democratic and Republican candidates this election is more clear-cut, with McCain’s 10-to-1 advantage over Obama.

But while Bush drew on a larger base — 42 of the CEOs donated to his campaign; only 29 have donated to McCain — the president’s would-be Republican successor has managed to bring in more than twice as much than Bush did, despite drawing on fewer CEOs as donors.

That uptick has been largely due to the fact that several donors have contributed large additional sums to McCain’s Victory 2008 political action committee (PAC).

Three corporate chiefs from Fortune’s top 100 stand out as McCain’s biggest backers. In addition to maximum $4,600 personal donations to McCain, Verizon Communications CEO Ivan G. Seidenberg, Merrill Lynch CEO John A. Thain and Hess Corporation chief John B. Hess have also donated $28,500 each to McCain’s Victory 2008 PAC.

Hess also donated $2,300 to Obama’s campaign.

Two other CEOs, Marathon Oil’s Clarence P. Cazalot and Liberty Mutual’s Edmund F. Kelly, have also made large PAC donations. Cazalot donated $15,000 to McCain’s PAC, and Kelly donated $10,000. Like Hess, Kelly has also donated $2,300 to Obama.

It is a far smaller number of CEOs that have donated to both Obama and McCain. The two campaigns share five donors: the previously mentioned Hess and Kelly plus State Farm CEO Edward Rust, Lehman Brothers’ Richard S. Fuld, and Allstate chief Thomas J. Wilson. But even among these shared donors, McCain has raised $64,100 to Obama’s $8,900.

Of the shared donors, only Fuld’s and Rust’s donations split evenly between Obama and McCain; Fuld donated $2,300 to each and Rust donated $1,000 to each campaign. Allstate’s Wilson gave $4,600 to McCain and $1,000 to Obama.

Lehman Brothers’ Fuld has been a prolific fundraiser for both candidates, but was recently touted as one of Wall Street’s top Obama supporters by the New York Post, which reported that there was a copy of Obama’s book, The Audacity of Hope, on Fuld’s desk.

Obama has only drawn exclusive donations from Costco CEO James Sinegal, Motorola CEO Gregory Q. Brown and Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffet. Sinegal’s single $25,000 contribution to Kerry’s 2004 Victory PAC is more than the $20,400 total Obama has raised from these three donors and the five he shares with McCain.

Obama has also struggled to win over the 13 CEOs who donated to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s (D-N.Y.) primary campaign. Of those 13, only two have donated to Obama as well — Buffett and Fuld.

Five of Clinton’s corporate donors, though, have also given to McCain: GE chief executive Jeffrey Immelt, Walgreen CEO Jeffrey Rein, Newscorp head Rupert Murdoch, Seidenberg and Fuld. Those five donors gave a total of $13,800 to Clinton but gave a total of $45,600 to McCain.