Presidential Candidates Profit From Alternatives

Apr 18 2007 | 11:44am ET

The top presidential candidates are raking in campaign contributions from Wall Street, but for alternatives cash, it helps to know people.

According to Federal Election Commission filings, Democratic presidential candidates took in more than $1.3 million in contributions from top investment banking firms during the first quarter, with the Republicans garnering just about $1.1 million. Hedge funds and private equity firms are getting in on the action, too, but some firms have preferred (and connected) candidates.

Ex-Bain Capital executive Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, took in almost $80,000 in the first three months of 2007 from that firm’s employees. On the other side of aisle, former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards got more than $150,000 from employees of Fortress Investment Group, where he served as a senior adviser after leaving the Senate.

Steve Cohen’s SAC Capital has gone to bat for its hometown candidate: The Stamford, Conn.-based firm’s employees have given $175,000 to the state’s senior senator, Christopher Dodd.

It also helps to recruit hedge fund executives as fundraisers. “I’ve never had a higher hit ratio in terms of asking people for money and them saying yes,” Barack Obama-backer and Torrey Associates CEO James Torrey told Bloomberg News. “There are one or two people who are zealots within these firms and when they get behind a candidate, other people within these firms follow.”

Obama must have some backers at the Blackstone Group and Carlyle Group, then: He raised $35,000 between the two. Also benefiting from in-house support is former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who named Elliott Associates founder Paul Singer regional finance chairman for his bid. It paid off: Elliott employees gave his campaign $168,400 in the first quarter.

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