Private equity backs its own in US election(2)

The US private equity community has contributed substantial sums to the ever-expanding war chests of the US presidential hopefuls. Republican candidate Mitt Romney, the co-founder of Bain Capital, has predictably been the most generously supported.

Some of the leading US buyout professionals have emerged as major backers of the US presidential hopefuls, with Bain Capital co-founder Mitt Romney attracting the most private equity money so far.

Romney has received three times more money than any other candidate

Republican candidate Romney, who co-founded Bain Capital before going on to become the governor of Massachusetts, has – not surprisingly – been the most heavily backed. Romney has garnered over $250,000 (€189,663) from private equity executives, according to data from the website opensecrets.org. This was significantly more than his nearest rival, Democratic candidate Barack Obama, who received $85,350.

Of the other candidates, Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton, who is bidding to become the first female US president, and Republican Rudolph Giuliani, the former New York mayor, both collected $47,900 from the industry, while the other Republican candidate, Senator John McCain, received $41,450.

Under US election rules, individual contributions are limited to $2,300 for the primary election and $2,300 for the general election.

The website reveals that several of the candidates have attracted some high-profile support from within private equity, as many leading industry figures demonstrated their Republican leanings.

The Blackstone Group’s co-founder Stephen Schwarzman donated to Romney and McCain, while TPG co-founder David Bonderman and Kohlberg Kravis Roberts co-founder Henry Kravis both gave to McCain. Wilbur Ross gave to McCain and Giuliani.

Dozens of Bain Capital partners contributed money to the Romney campaign, but he also received donations from a number of buyout professionals at Bain’s competitors, including AIM, HIG Capital and TPG.

On the other side of the political divide, Apax Partners co-founder Alan Patricof, Goldman Sachs chairman and chief executive Lloyd Blankfein, and Thomas H Lee, founder of the buyout group that bears his name, all donated to Clinton.

The Democratic campaign has generated much publicity in the press for its new-found fundraising clout, with Clinton and Obama raising $36 million and $26 million respectively thus far.

But private equity veteran Romney has also impressed pundits with the $24 million he has raised, a clear demonstration of his strong links to the business community. Despite the higher profile of his competitors for the Republican nomination, Giuliani and McCain, they have so far raised a ‘mere’ $17 million and $13 million respectively.