Bush Sees Windfall From Executive Branch

Posted February 13, 2004 at 6:07pm

Aided by a $2,000 check from chief strategist Karl Rove, President Bush has raised more than $100,000 from his White House staff, political appointees and career bureaucrats through September of last year — nearly three times as much as former Vice President Al Gore collected from executive branch employees during the same period in 1999.

The new fundraising data, collected by the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics, shows that Bush’s fundraising prowess reaches deep into the federal bureaucracy.

Bush collected $109,000 from federal employees in Washington and around the country through Sept. 30, according to the fundraising data.

Through the same period in the previous presidential election cycle, Gore had taken in just $39,000 from federal government workers.

Part of the explanation lies in the fact that donors can now contribute up to $4,000 to a presidential campaign, up from $2,000 when Gore sought the presidency.

Still, Bush collected 70 total contributions from the group, compared with just 29 for Gore in the same window.

One such contribution came from Rove, the top political strategist in the White House. Rove gave Bush a $2,000 check on Sept. 30, according to the data.

Several other White House aides gave large checks to their boss, including Stephen Friedman, a senior economic adviser in the Bush administration, and White House intern Catherine Jessop.

Kenneth Meyer, a political appointee to the Education Department, gave Bush $1,000, and Commerce Department appointee Bruce Mehlman contributed $2,000 according to the records.

Among his Cabinet secretaries, only Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman and Labor Secretary Elaine Chao contributed to Bush’s re-election effort through Sept. 30.

Outside of the administration, Bush also received a pair of campaign checks from Kenneth Mehlman, Bush’s campaign manager, and Mary Cheney, Vice President Cheney’s daughter who works for the re-election campaign.

One of the few Members of Congress who contributed to Bush was Sen. Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) who gave $2,000 after the White House helped him replace Sen Trent Lott (R-Miss.) as the Senate’s Majority Leader.

(After contributing $1,000 to Lott’s campaign in 1999, Rove had yet to donate to Lott through Sept. 30.)

Bush also received $2,000 from both George H.W. and Barbara Bush, a “retired” couple in Houston.

Though Bush collected most of the contributions from executive branch employees, some of his Democratic rivals also received generous donations last year.

Career bureaucrats at various federal departments and agencies gave former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean $3,000, Democratic frontrunner Sen. John Kerry (Mass.) $2,000 and one-time presidential hopeful Sen. Bob Graham (Fla.) $1,000.

Interestingly, Democratic presidential candidate Lyndon LaRouche received $2,625 from federal employees, according to the fundraising records.

Overall, federal employees gave $17,000 to Democratic political candidates and party committees — about 12 percent of what they contributed to Bush and the GOP.