Clinton's 2016 bid draws more Wall Street fundraisers than Obama in 2012

WASHINGTON — Democrat Hillary Clinton’s bid for the presidency has drawn more support from Wall Street fundraisers than President Obama received from the industry four years ago, a new analysis shows.

Clinton’s ranks of elite fundraisers include 201 people who work in the securities and investment sector and dozens more who work in other areas of finance and commercial banking, according to a tally by the Center for Responsive Politics and USA TODAY.

Together, the broader finance sector has helped collect at least $20 million for her presidential campaign and the Democratic Party.

In all, Clinton’s 1,370 fundraisers — dubbed “Hillblazers” by the campaign — have bundled together at least $137 million from their friends, family members and business associates to build a money machine that surpasses the fundraising operation that twice helped elect Obama.

Obama relied on just 769 bundlers in his 2012 re-election, 92 of whom came from the securities and investment industry, the center’s data show.

Clinton’s Hillblazers range from longtime allies of Clinton and her husband, former president Bill Clinton, to wealthy Republicans disenchanted with GOP nominee Donald Trump, such as Hewlett Packard Enterprise chief executive Meg Whitman.

The former secretary of State could choose to draw from the ranks of these loyalists as she looks to fill key administration posts and appoint ambassadors.

One Hillblazer, former Interior secretary Ken Salazar, leads the team working on her White House transition.

Clinton’s fundraisers have done more than round up checks on her behalf at Hollywood receptions and parties in the Hamptons as she and her allies have amassed roughly $1 billion for her election through traditional fundraising and seven- and eight-figure donations to super PACs.

Dozens of Clinton bundlers have helped bankroll the leading super PAC working on Clinton’s behalf, Federal Election Commission records show. Billionaire hedge-fund manager S. Donald Sussman, has donated $19 million to the PAC, Priorities USA Action — including $6 million last month alone — and has emerged as one of Clinton’s largest financial benefactors.

On Tuesday, Priorities officials announced they had raised $175 million through Oct. 19, cementing the super PAC's position as the best-funded outside group of the 2016 election.

“The next president will be indebted to all of his or her supporters to some degree, but none more than those who have not only given the maximum (donation) but have rounded up hundreds of thousands or millions more for the campaign,” said Sheila Krumholz, executive director of the Center for Responsive Politics, which tracks political money.

“This is the primo list of those who will be first in line for plum posts and perks in the next administration,” she said.

Federal law does not require presidential candidates to disclose their bundler’s identities. Clinton has done so voluntarily, as she did during her 2008 run for the presidency, and updates the list monthly. Trump has not disclosed his bundlers.

Clinton aides say she has widespread support. "More than 2.6 million Americans have donated to this campaign because they know Hillary Clinton is the best candidate to bring us toward a more inclusive society with an economy that works for everyone, not just those at the top,” said spokesman Josh Schwerin. “It's unfortunate that Donald Trump has refused to follow Hillary's lead on being transparent about who is helping raise money for the campaign."

New bundlers

The industry analysis used occupation data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics for more than 1,100 bundlers Clinton previously disclosed. USA TODAY then researched occupations and industries for the more than 240 new bundlers that Clinton added in September. The campaign made those names public late last week.

Lawyers and figures from the world of real-estate also have stepped up to raise money on Clinton’s behalf, collecting $18.2 million and $9.9 million, respectively.

The amounts Clinton has raised through Hillblazers are likely far higher. Her campaign only notes that each has raised least $100,000 on her behalf, making it impossible to accurately calculate total fundraising by her bundlers.

In 2012, Obama faced Republican rival Mitt Romney, a private-equity veteran, who had far more success with Wall Street, attracting at least 300 bundlers from the world of finance, according to a list of Romney fundraisers USA TODAY assembled in 2012.

The 2016 campaign, however, is far different.

Clinton has deep ties to Wall Street from her time as first lady and New York senator. “All of the people in New York, not just in New York City, but throughout the state of New York know the secretary well,” said Clinton supporter Robert Wolf, the former president of UBS Investment Bank. He now runs the boutique consulting firm 32 Advisors.

“They have a history with her,” Wolf said.

Trump, who also hails from New York, has derided lobbyists, Wall Street interests and many of his party’s establishment figures and has seen many traditional Republican donors refuse to back his candidacy over his incendiary rhetoric about women, Muslims and Latino immigrants. Scores of elected officials, meanwhile, have withdrawn their support for Trump following this month’s disclosure of a 2005 tape of him bragging about kissing and groping women.

Lonely Trump

“If you have as many friends as Donald Trump does, you have a lonely life,” said Orin Kramer, a New York hedge fund manager who backed Obama and now is raising money for Clinton.

Kramer said the choice is obvious in 2016. “There hasn’t been a more qualified non-incumbent presidential candidate (than Clinton) in 60 years,” he said.

The list of new Clinton bundlers who aided her campaign in September offers a snapshot of the A-listers in various industries who are rallying to help Democrat in the final stretch to Election Day.

They include:

• HP’s Whitman, who was the Republican nominee for California governor in 2010. She co-hosted a fundraising lunch last month attended by Clinton running mate Tim Kaine, a senator from Virginia. Whitman, who has called Trump a “dishonest demagogue,” also was one of Clinton’s guests last week at the final presidential debate in Las Vegas.

• Actress Eva Longoria, who helped lead a cadre of Latino fundraisers who collected more than $30 million for Obama’s campaign in 2012.

• Sue Ann Arnall, whose nearly $1 billion divorce settlement from energy billionaire Harold Hamm made headlines early last year. Last month, she hosted a Clinton fundraiser, attended by Kaine.

Arnall and her ex-husband are at odds in the presidential race, too. Hamm supports Trump.

Contributing: Ray Locker


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