Obama Top Fundraiser on Wall Street

By Kristin Jensen and Christine Harper
Bloomberg News
Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama ran ahead of New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D) and former New York mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani (R) on their home turf in the first quarter, raising cash from the biggest investment banks on Wall Street.

The Illinois senator raised $479,209 from employees at the banks in the quarter, according to Federal Election Commission filings. Giuliani collected $473,442, and Clinton got $447,625. The figures are based on employers listed by the donors; in some cases, names are incomplete or missing.

Among employees of the top investment banks, Democrat John Edwards took in $193,250, FEC filings show.

The employees of Goldman Sachs and UBS gave Obama more than $260,000 combined. His top fundraisers include David Heller, a managing director at Goldman, and Robert Wolf, chief executive of UBS Americas.

"I've never had a higher hit ratio in terms of asking people for money and them saying yes," said James Torrey, an Obama fundraiser and chief executive of New York-based Torrey Associates, a $1.3 billion fund of funds.

The figures reflect giving from the employees of Bear Stearns, Citigroup, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, J.P. Morgan Chase, Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley, as well as Goldman and UBS. Goldman employees gave about 50 percent more to presidential hopefuls than the next-highest set of givers, at Citigroup.

Giuliani's GOP rival Mitt Romney raised $385,700 from top investment banks, while Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) got $213,660. After adding in the top 10 hedge funds and top 10 private-equity firms, Romney did better, helped by ties he made in the corporate world before becoming governor of Massachusetts. He previously ran the Boston-based investment firm Bain Capital, whose employees gave him $79,400.

Obama also got money from the private-equity world, receiving a combined $35,000 from employees of the leveraged-buyout firm Blackstone Group and from the Carlyle Group, a global private-equity firm based in Washington.

The Democratic candidates for president tallied more than $1.3 million in contributions from employees of top Wall Street investment banking firms in the period, compared with about $1.1 million for the Republicans, FEC filings show.

Giuliani got $168,400 from employees at the New York-based hedge fund Elliott Associates, whose founder, Paul Singer, is a regional finance chairman for the campaign.

Employees of Goldman, the world's biggest securities firm by market value, donated $120,250 to Obama, who addressed Goldman's annual partners' meeting in Chicago last year, and $113,750 to Romney, the filings show. Clinton got $64,400 from the firm's employees. Giuliani received $13,250.

"These are private decisions by individuals at the firm to contribute, and it would be inappropriate for Goldman Sachs to comment on it," said Peter Rose, a Goldman spokesman.

U.S. employees of Zurich-based UBS gave more than $140,000 to Obama, compared with $62,050 to Giuliani and $9,100 for Clinton. Romney raised $24,100 from UBS employees, and McCain took in $16,000.

During the quarter, New York-based Bear Stearns hosted presidential candidates from both parties. In the end, the firm's employees gave their biggest group of donations to Giuliani. He received $67,942 of their more than $200,000 in contributions.

© 2007 The Washington Post Company