Monday, July 7, 2003

“The Nine Dwarfs” pursuing the Democratic Party presidential nomination have been relentlessly asserting that the Republican Party is beholden to the wealthy. It turns out, however, that it is the Democratic Party that has been addicted to the million-dollar contributions from the nation’s fat cats. A recent study by the Center for Responsive Politics (CRP), a nonpartisan campaign-finance research organization, reveals that the Democratic Party gobbled up an astounding 92 percent of all individual contributions totaling $1 million or more during the 2001-02 election cycle. Meanwhile, it was the Republican Party that received 64 percent of all individual contributions less than $200 per donor. The CRP study reviewed more than 1.4 million individual contributions of $200 or more given to congressional candidates, parties and leadership political action committees, which are fund-raising organizations controlled by members of Congress. The analysis included individuals’ hard-money contributions, which are limited by law, and the unlimited, essentially unregulated soft-money donations made by individuals. The study involved individual contributions totaling $1.36 billion. Republicans raised $773 million, and Democrats raised $584 million. Individual contributions below $200 amounted to $523 million. The vast majority of these donations represent personal checks for $100, $50, $25 and less, often written in response to direct-mail appeals. Clearly, these are not wealthy people. Republicans captured $333 million, or 64 percent at the less-than-$200 level, while Democrats managed to rake in $182 million, or 35 percent. For individual contributions between $200 and $999 — not exactly a definitive measure of wealth — Republicans solidly outdistanced Democrats ($75 million to $47 million). Indeed, only in the truly fat-cat segments ($100,000-$999,999 and $1-million-and-above) did the self-described “party of the people” outraise the GOP. From individuals who contributed $1 million or more, Democrats collected $48 million, or 1,100 percent more than the Republicans’ $4 million. Moreover, Democrats enjoyed a monopoly among individual contributors who donated $2 million or more. Cumulatively, that ever-so-special fat-cat cohort — which included a mere six white males (Haim Saban, $9.3 million; Fred Eychaner, $7.4 million; Stephen Bing, $6.7 million; Steven Kirsch, $3.2 million; Bernard Schwartz, $2.3 million; and Democratic Sen. Jon Corzine, $2 million) — donated more than $30 million to the Democratic Party. By all indications, the McCain-Feingold self-styled campaign-finance-reform bill that Democrats wholeheartedly embraced will increase the Republican fund-raising advantages. To wit: the $34.2 million that President Bush raised during the second quarter exceeded the fund-raising of all “The Nine Dwarfs” combined.

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