Obama tops McCain in private equity support

US presidential candidate John McCain has come under fire by one US labour union for his ties to KKR co-founder Henry Kravis, but recent data shows Democratic rival Barack Obama has the most financial support from the private equity and venture capital industries.

Democratic US presidential candidate Barack Obama leads in capital contributed by private equity and venture capital executives, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, although Republican candidate John McCain has buyout giants including Henry Kravis and Stephen Schwarzman in his corner.

Through June, individuals from a category designated by the independent, non-profit research group as “private equity and investment firms” contributed a total of $964,000 (€674,000) to Obama and $835,000 to McCain. Individuals from venture capital firms have contributed $746,000 to Obama and $333,000 to McCain.

The Center for Responsive Politics, which tracks money in US politics and studies its effect on elections and public policy defines private equity and investment firms as “companies that provide funding, financing, capital, research, management guidance and administration, and/or take equity stakes in companies or ventures”.

The Washington DC-based group also found that individuals from hedge funds have donated $861,000 to Obama and $465,000 to McCain.

More recent figures, through July, show that individuals from hedge funds and private equity firms combined have contributed a total of $2 million to Obama and $1.4 million to McCain.

The group categorises contributions by individuals and political action committees greater than $200 in size. The center utilises data required to be disclosed to the Federal Election Commission including employer and occupation. Vague data is discounted. Therefore the group asserts that all figures are conservative.

Although the numbers favour Obama, McCain has some heavy hitters in his corner. A July fundraiser in Long Island, New York, for McCain fetching $28,500 per head had some of the most powerful people in private equity on its host committee, according to an invitation obtained by PEO.

The host committee included: KKR co-founder Henry Kravis, The Blackstone Group co-founder Stephen Schwarzman, Apollo Global Management co-founder Marc Rowan, Elevation Partners co-founder Bret Pearlman and New Mountain Capital founder Steven Klinsky.