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Local Tech Execs Open Wallets for Obama

Kim Hart

Presidential hopeful Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) is tapping into a new and lucrative fundraising source: Washington's tech community.

About 200 of the area's most prominent names from the telecommunications and media worlds attended a private fundraiser for Obama last Thursday at the Chevy Chase, Md., home of Reed Hundt, former chairman of the Federal Communications Commission. He's now on the board of directors at Intel Corp. and serves as an advisor to The Blackstone Group.

Also on the guest list were XM Radio CEO Hugh Panero, Radio One CEO Alfred Liggins, Level 3 Communications Vice President Don Gips, and former AOL Vice President Jim Bankoff.

Partners from powerhouse private equity firms such as Carlyle and Benchmark Capital were also spotted, or so I'm told by people who were there. We didn't make it to the event--invitation must've been lost in the mail--but we heard it raised about $600,000 for Obama's campaign.

That's not quite as much as he collected at other high-profile fundraising events, like the star-studded Geffen fundraiser held last month in Beverly Hills, where Obama snagged about $1.3 million from a large cast of celebrities.

But the Washington event signals that Obama is turning to people who aren't typically super-involved in the political process, some of his local supporters said. Members of the local tech community, while relative newcomers to politics, hold vasts amount of wealth and influence that presidential candidates are bound to try to utilize. Obama has said that he's interested in getting to know technology companies on both coasts; he sees technology as a solution for many issues he wants to tackle, including health care and education.

Another aspect worth noting: Several telecom regulators from the Clinton administration co-hosted the fundraiser, apparently throwing their weight behind Obama rather than the former president's wife who is also up for the job.

Bill Kennard, who served as FCC chairman under Clinton, was listed as a primary host of the event, according to the invitation. He's now managing director in Carlyle's global telecom and media group.

Julius Genachowski, who was chief counsel to the FCC during the Clinton Era before becoming executive vice president of tech company IAC/InterActiveCorp., went to law school with Obama and was also a host.

According to the invitation, everyone paid $2,300 to attend.

By Kim Hart  |  March 19, 2007; 6:00 AM ET  | Category:  Kim Hart
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Senator Barack Obama will be the next "Technology President" having embraced the YouTube.com and MySpace.com generation with his pre-announcement video signaling his intention to become a presidential candidate.

The beauty of what Barack Obama is doing is clear and simple: political empowerment. Obama has urged his followers and supporters at the grass roots level to take the campaign into their own hands. Our group, Technology for Obama, has done just that.

Obama For Technology | Technology For Obama is a national support group organized to develop a broad-based technology platform initiative for use by Barack Obama in the 2008 presidential campaign. Technology For Obama was formed on February 10, the day Obama announced, and three days later held it's first meeting with over 70 registered attendees - over 20 showed up in blizzard weather conditions at 10 in the morning on a weekday to discuss issues related to developing a technology platform initiative.

That initiative is posted on ObamaForTechnology.com as well as meeting notes, conference calls and agendas of group activities. There is even a video shot on February 13, the same day as the inaugural meeting, that further defines the groups mission and underscores the importance of technology in the political process.

Senator Obama may not be the most technology savvy individual, but with the support of the technology community on the East Coast and West Coasts, and with help from grass roots supporters, he can become the Technology President.

Edmund Dantes Hamilton, founder
Technology For Obama

Posted by: ObamaForTechnology.com | March 20, 2007 11:01 AM

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