Obama Names Transition Donors
Updated 11: 44 a.m. 12/02/08
By Alec MacGillis
The most productive money-raising machine in presidential campaign history appears to have had little trouble raising the sums needed to build a robust government-in-waiting.
President-elect Barack Obama's transition team announced today that, in the first 11 days following the Nov. 4 election, it had raised $1,170,937.44 from 1,776 donors to pay for transition costs. That amount gives the transition team a healthy start its way to raising the estimated $6.7 million it hopes to bring in, in addition to the $5.3 million that will be provided by taxpayer funds.
Donors are limited by law to a $5,000 maximum contribution to the transition team, and Obama has banned contributions from corporations, unions or political action committee, or from registered federal lobbyists or registered foreign agents.
Not surprisingly, the list is studded with many of the same names that helped drive Obama's campaign fundraising to record-setting heights.
Former Obama "bundlers" giving the $5,000 maximum include: James and Paula Crown, members of the Chicago Crown dynasty that holds a large stake in the defense contractor General Dynamics; Alan Solomont, the Boston financier who led Obama's New England fundraising operation; the hedge fund chieftain Orin Kramer; and John Rogers, CEO of Ariel Management in Chicago and ex-husband of Desiree Rogers, who has been named the White House social secretary.
The list is generally dominated by the worlds of finance, law, medicine, academe, high technology and entertainment. Wall Street high rollers giving $5,000 included Eric Mindich of Eton Park Capital Management, UBS CEO Robert Wolf, and uber-financier Steve Rattner.
Giving the maximum in the entertainment world are George Lucas Jr., Sony CEO Andrew Lack and Warner Music Group CEO Edgar Bronfman, Jr.
Google CEO Eric Schmidt also gave the max -- one of a half dozen Google employees who gave a total of $14,700.
The philanthropists Herb and Marion Sandler, who recently sold subprime lender Golden West, gave $5,000 each.
Former Nebraska senator and New School President Bob Kerrey chipped in $1,000. And several executives at United Health, the health insurance giant, gave the maximum.
But the list also included many of more modest station, suggesting that the transition team was able to tap into the campaign's broad base of small donors.
Among those making donations of $200 or less were: an employee of the National Gallery of Art, a planner at Island Style Weddings in the Virgin Islands, a Wendy's worker in Pennsylvania, a Fish and Wildlife worker in Minnesota and a Forest Service worker in Wyoming.
Also donating were teachers from the Alexandria, Va., Loudoun County, Va., and Memphis schools, a Teamster from Maryland, a homeless services worker in St. Louis -- and an employee from the Lawrence Welk Family Foundation who sent $10.
This item has been corrected. It initially reported that the Obama team was seeking to raise $3.5 million and that the government would provide $8.5 million.
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