WASHINGTON – Employees of five financial services companies accounted for more than $1 million of the record $132.7 million President Bush raised last year for his re-election campaign.
All have executives who rank among Bush's "rangers," campaign volunteers who raise at least $200,000 each for Bush, or who are "pioneers," collecting at least $100,000 for the Republican.
Employees of Merrill Lynch (search) individually gave at least $360,000. Workers at Price Waterhouse (search) contributed at least $310,000; UBS (search), at least $230,000; and Goldman Sachs (search) and MBNA, at least $220,000, reviews of Bush's 2003 campaign finance, reports by The Associated Press and nonpartisan Political Money Line found.
"We're proud of the broad support we receive from people from all walks of life and from all across the country," Bush campaign spokesman Terry Holt said Friday. "By the end of the year, we had more than 400,000 contributors, and obviously we screen all of our donations for whether they are legal and whether they are appropriate."
Campaign officials noted the contributions from the five companies make up less than 1 percent of the campaign's total donations.
Spokesmen for Merrill Lynch, whose employees together appeared to give the most, did not immediately respond to an AP call seeking comment.
Steve Bartlett, president of The Financial Services Roundtable, which represents 100 of the industry's biggest companies, said he was glad to hear the employees were active in the presidential race. He urges industry workers to get more involved in campaigns every year.
"The reason the employees and executives of financial services companies are heavily committed to President Bush's re-election is that it's all about the economy in 2004," said Bartlett, who gave Bush $1,000. "The overwhelming issue for financial services employees is the economy because overall our large companies finance the economy."
Bartlett said every year is important for the industry in Washington. The roundtable lists lobbying on proposals to toughen regulation of the mutual fund industry, limit class-action lawsuits and let workers invest some of their Social Security taxes among its priorities for 2004.
Employees of several other companies in other industries gave Bush more than $100,000.
They included workers at the lobbying firms Blank Rome LLP and Winston & Strawn, Lehman Brothers financial services company, Ernst & Young accounting firm, Microsoft, Morgan Stanley financial services company, Union Pacific railroad, and Credit Suisse First Boston.
The businesses also have executives among Bush's roughly 150 fund-raising rangers and 240 pioneers.
Bush was the first 2004 presidential candidate to file a campaign finance report detailing his fund-raising and spending from October through December. He sent his report to the Federal Election Commission late Thursday. The year-end reports are due at midnight Saturday.
Bush, like Democratic hopefuls Howard Dean and John Kerry, is forgoing public money for the primaries, freeing him from the program's $45 million spending limit.
The Bush campaign spent $33.6 million last year, starting this year with $99 million left and more fund-raisers planned. Bush began his re-election effort last May.
In addition to campaign fund raising, candidates can also accept contributions for legal compliance funds. Bush reported raising nearly $1 million for his compliance fund so far.
A Democratic candidate no longer in the race, former Illinois Sen. Carol Moseley Braun, filed her year-end campaign finance report Friday.
It shows Braun raised $493,135 last year and spent $489,118. Braun finished the year with $218,488 in bills left to pay and about $4,000 on hand.