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Obama Releases Transition Donor List

POSTED: 04:34 PM ET, 12/ 1/2008 by Derek Kravitz

President-elect Barack Obama's transition team released its first list of donors today, attempting to fulfill a promise to be the most transparent and ethically "strictest" presidential transition in history.

The list shows that 1,776 donors gave nearly $1.2 million to the transition team as of Nov. 15. Roughly $650,000, or more than half, of that total came from donors who gave the maximum $5,000 limit. Donations from corporations, unions, registered lobbyists, foreign agents, labor unions and political-action committees are prohibited.

Still, several corporate CEOs and titans of industry, including hedge-fund chieftains and law firm partners, made the list.

Top donors include former Commerce Secretary William M. Daley, now of JPMorgan Chase & Co.; Google chief executive Eric Schmidt; movie producer George Lucas Jr.; Choice Hotels chairman Stewart W. Bainum Jr.; UBS chief executive Robert Wolf; Sony chief executive Andrew Lack and Warner Music Group chief executive Edgar Bronfman, Jr..

Daley and Schmidt are both Obama transition team advisers.

Four members of the Sandler family of San Francisco contributed the $5,000 maximum, including Herb and Marion Sandler, the philanthropic couple who used to own the mortgage company Golden West Financial.

The Sandlers, who also finance the investigative reporting news service ProPublica, sold their stake in Golden West to Wachovia in 2006 for $24 billion. Last month, the Justice Department said it was investigating whether Golden West engaged in predatory lending practices, The Associated Press reported.

Herb Sandler told the AP that he and his wife had not been contacted about the probe, but called it "strange and anomalous" given Golden West's "40-year track record for ethics and integrity."

The Sandlers weren't the only family to donate heavily to the Obama transition effort. Four members of the Welters family of McLean, Va., including Anthony Welters, an executive vice president of UnitedHealth Group, donated $5,000 a piece.

By Derek Kravitz |  December 1, 2008; 4:34 PM ET
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