Early Briefing: Local Money and Politics

It's Monday, so the business section is all local. And today, we've taken a look at the local business community and its role in the upcoming elections.

*Long & Foster founder Wes Foster and McLean jewelry designer Michelle Olson are tapping their networks of customers and deal partners to put together money for Sen. John McCain's presidential campaign. Don Beyer, the Falls Church Volvo dealer, and tech guru Julius Genachowski are collecting contributions for Sen. Barack Obama's bid.

They and others in the Washington business scene are fundraisers known as bundlers, drawing on basic business tactics such as networking and teambuilding to get the last buck for their candidate. Bundlers in the same camp even compete against one another to see who can raise the most cash -- and get the most credit.

*Executives and employees of financial services firms and defense contractors have given the most money to the two major political parties and their presidential nominees, a review of donations by some of the region's largest companies and nonprofit organizations shows. And the 10 firms whose employees gave the most money favored the Republican Party and its standard bearer, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), over the Democratic Party and its White House pick, Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.).

The data provide only a snapshot of campaign giving in the Washington area. The Washington Post hired the Center for Responsive Politics, the nonpartisan research group that runs campaign-finance Web site OpenSecrets.org, to pull together donation information from 100 large local companies and nonprofits, as well as their employees and the employees' non-working family members.

*Hispanic businesses and Spanish-language media, galvanized by the immigration debates of recent years, are sponsoring a bevy of civic engagement and get-out-the-vote efforts in the Washington area. Some are part of larger national campaigns, spurred both by discussions of immigration policy and by Republicans' and Democrats' interest in recruiting Hispanic voters. The majority of the efforts are nonpartisan and aimed at getting Hispanics to register and show up on Election Day.


Kenneth Feld, the chief executive of Feld Entertainment, celebrates his acquisition of Live Nation Motor Sports. Photo by Heinz Kluetmeier

*Kenneth Feld, the chief executive of Feld Entertainment, called the Vienna company's purchase of Live Nation Motorsports "the single biggest expansion of Feld Entertainment in the past 40 years." Live Nation Motorsports will be renamed Feld Entertainment Motorsports and will keep putting on dirt bike races and monster truck shows.

"It's all family entertainment," he said. "It's about marketing, it's about sales. It's about producing large-scale events. That's what we've already done."

*Just about every industry has a trade association pushing its policy agenda in Washington. In the technology industry's case, the number of trade groups reaches well into the double digits, making it difficult for any one organization to gain political clout. Last week, the AeA and the ITAA said they were discussing joining forces, potentially creating a new tech lobbying powerhouse in town.

*The ups and downs in the federal contracting world often depend on what's going on in the government, a fact of life that companies regularly acknowledge in their annual reports filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. This year, in addition to their standard warnings, some companies are flagging for investors the possible consequences of changes in the White House or Congress.

By Terri Rupar  |  September 15, 2008; 5:00 AM ET  | Category:  Morning Brief
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