NEW YORK – Major corporations, prominent New Yorkers and President Bush's regular backers are among the donors behind the $64 million raised for the Republican National Convention (search), the host committee said Thursday.
A list of donors the committee released also includes Democrats and wealthy friends of Michael Bloomberg (search), illustrating the fund-raising influence of New York's billionaire mayor. Bloomberg was a Democrat before he switched parties to run as a Republican in 2001.
The committee declined to reveal the size of each contribution, but said they range from $2,500 to $5 million — the amount that both David Rockefeller (search) and Bloomberg have contributed as individuals.
The list of 73 donors lacked about 20 contributors who preferred to remain anonymous until Oct. 13, when campaign finance laws require the committee to report that information. The host committee for the Democratic National Convention (search) in Boston has not released any of that data.
Watchdog groups say all contributors and their amounts should be made public now, ahead of the Aug. 30 convention.
"Voters are not able to assess what the candidate says and what the convention means without knowing how it's financed," said Steven Weissman, associate director for policy at the nonpartisan Campaign Finance Institute (search).
Weissman said donors on the partial list were "not untypical of conventions," with a mix of big corporations like Pfizer Inc. and Coca-Cola, plus affluent individuals and some local companies.
Many have promised goods, services or parties in addition to or instead of cash. The Walt Disney Co. pledged "Lion King" tickets for convention delegates, and Microsoft Corp. is providing approximately $1 million worth of software and technical services, a company spokeswoman said.
The political mishmash of contributors includes Alex Spanos, owner of the NFL's San Diego Chargers, who has helped raise millions of dollars for Bush; and job-hunting giant Monster Worldwide, which was founded by Jeff Taylor, an honorary co-chair of the Democratic convention.
Monster is providing about $1 million worth of software services to ease the recruitment of Republican convention volunteers, Taylor said. The company is one of many donors supporting both political conventions.
"Monster has tried to be involved with large-scale events that happen throughout the year," Taylor said. "It's not about which side we're on or whose party we support."
The GOP effort is on track to nearly double the record $36 million raised for the 2000 Democratic convention in Los Angeles.
One of the host committee's weapons is GOP fund-raising powerhouse Lewis M. Eisenberg, the former chairman of the Republican National Finance Committee who helped raise $135.3 million in the year before he took the convention job.
But Bloomberg's command over the fruitful financing endeavor is obvious. The list is heavy with connections to his friends and business partners — many of whom are Democrats. They include real estate mogul William Rudin, Jonathan Tisch of Loews Hotels and Sanford Weill of Citigroup.
And Time Warner Inc., whose chief executive, Richard Parsons, is close with the mayor and served on his transition team, is sponsoring a posh $1 million fete for the 15,000 journalists coming to Manhattan for the convention.