Who's Bankrolling the Presidential Candidates?

Presidential candidates are passing the hat in Georgetown, Great Falls, McLean, and other VIP-rich neighborhoods. Who’s ponying up?

By: Drew Lindsay

Politics makes for strange bedfellows. Just how strange? Consider Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign.

Among the Republican’s backers is Bill Marriott, CEO of the hotel chain and family business that’s wrapped in apple-pie wholesomeness. No surprise—Marriott is a family friend and fellow Mormon.

But Romney’s also collected a check from Debra Lee, who runs BET, the cable-television network synonymous with racy music videos. And he’s gotten money from Doro Bush Koch, daughter of former president George Bush.

Thanks in part to such eclectic appeal, Romney has raised $860,000 in this area—more than all but three of the other 17 candidates passing the hat, even though the former Massachusetts governor is one of the few Washington outsiders in the 2008 race.

Romney’s hauled in more cash than any of his rivals from the mansions of Potomac and Great Falls, and he’s drawing big bucks in Georgetown and McLean.

Hillary Rodham Clinton, whose DC roots run deep, has raised the most money here, nearly $3 million so far. The Democratic front-runner has tapped Georgetown’s blue-blood Dems for more than $300,000—nearly three times the total for Barack Obama, her closest competitor there. She’s also tops in McLean, a typically Republican stronghold, and Massachusetts Avenue Heights, the wealthy DC enclave that’s near where she and husband Bill live.

Obama’s pulled in $2 million from area contributors and leads the money race in Chevy Chase and west Bethesda. John McCain, once the odds-on GOP favorite, is third in areawide contributions with strong showings in McLean, North Arlington, Great Falls, and downtown DC.

Some area contributors are betting on more than one horse. Lawyer Kenneth Feinberg, the master of the federal 9/11 victims fund, has cut checks to six candidates—Republican Rudy Giuliani and Clinton, Obama, Chris Dodd, Joe Biden, and Bill Richardson. His wife, Diane, has done the same, though she skipped giving to Richardson.

Giuseppe Cecchi, the legendary Northern Virginia developer, has put his money on four Republicans—Giuliani, McCain, Romney, and Sam Brownback.

Millionaire Roger Sant has ponied up for Obama, Clinton, and Romney. Philanthropist Katherine Bradley, wife of magazine publisher David Bradley, is backing Obama, Clinton, and Richardson.

More than a dozen Democratic insiders and lobbyists are supporting Dodd along with Clinton—no doubt a genuflection to his clout as chair of the Senate banking committee. Dodd/Clinton twofers include Vic Fazio, Smith and Elizabeth Bagley, Sam Berger, Michael Berman, Doug Sosnik, and Vernon Jordan.

Vic Kamber and Tommy Boggs are going for a Senate trifecta, backing Clinton, Dodd, and Biden.

Here are other VIPs giving to the leading candidates.

Who’s Bankrolling the Contenders?

GIVING TO HILLARY CLINTON

Power women: Ellen Malcolm, Deborah Tannen, Catherine Reynolds, Judith McHale, Agnes Williams, Madeleine Albright, Heather Podesta, Alice Rivlin, Hilary Rosen, Trish Vradenburg, Evelyn Davis

Friends of Bill and old staffers: Bob Barnett, Dan Glickman, Strobe Talbott, James Carville, Paul Begala, Terry McAuliffe, Steve Ricchetti (also giving to Biden), Martin Frost, Anne Wexler, Lanny Davis (Wexler and Davis also giving to Richardson)

Others: Robert and Mary Haft, Richard Ben-Veniste, DC councilmember Jack Evans, former GW president Steve Trachtenberg, Rabbi David Saperstein, entrepreneurs Rick Rickertsen and Irwin Edlavitch, Internet pioneer Vint Cerf

GIVING TO BARACK OBAMA

Moguls: John Hechinger Jr., Don Beyer, William Kennard, Ted and Lynne Leonsis, Sheila and Paige Johnson, Betty Casey, Jeff Zients and Alfred Liggins (also giving to Clinton), Gary Parsons

Others: Janet Hill, mother of NBA star Grant Hill; superlawyers John Nields, Abbe Lowell (also giving to Clinton), and Albert Beveridge; former pols Harris Wofford and Tom Daschle

GIVING TO JOHN MCCAIN

Republican insiders: James Watkins, Jim Woolsey, James Schlesinger, Robert Zoellick, Warren Rudman, Charlie Black

Moguls: Jim Kimsey, Michael Petruzzello, Mel Estrin, Bobbie Kilberg, Dennis Bakke, Earle Williams, Mark Hughes, Jacqueline Mars

“A”-List GOP social networkers: Wilma Bernstein, Gahl Burt, Kathy Kemper, Lea Berman, Juleanna Glover Weiss

GIVING TO MITT ROMNEY

Moguls: Nolan Archibald, John Ourisman, Albert Small, Joe Robert

George H.W. Bush loyalists: Craig Fuller, Fred Malek and Brent Scowcroft (both also giving to McCain), Vin Weber

Marriott mafia: At least 50 executives from the hotel company and spin­off Host Hotels & Resorts have put up at least $80,000.