Hedge Funds Pour It On In Early Campaign Fundraising

Jun 4 2007 | 12:18pm ET

Hedge funds helped win Congress for the Democrats last year. Next year, they have their sights set on the White House.

The top 100 hedge funds in Absolute Return magazine’s “Billion Dollar Club” have given some $1.1 million to the hopefuls through the first quarter, more than 10 months before the first votes will be cast to determine the candidates.

So far, hedge funds are going to bat for a hometown hero: Sen. Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.), who in addition to representing the hedge fund hot spot also chairs the powerful Senate Banking Committee. Dodd, who barely registers on national polls, raked in $347,300. Former Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.)—who faced some withering press criticism of his work for Fortress Investment Group—at least seems to have made a few friends: He raised the second-most from hedge funds, $190,650, $182,250 of which came from Fortress.

Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) came in third with $164,600, Republican and former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani in fourth with $124,200, and Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) in fifth with $119,300. On the whole, hedge funds are in the Democrats’ corner, with a whopping 75% of hedge fund money going to that party’s candidates. Hedge funds have also been credited with helping to bankroll the Democrat’s 2006 Congressional campaign, when the party took control of both house of Congress. Of the top 10 giving hedge funds, seven gave most of their contributions to Democrats: In fact, the top four gave 95%, 100%, 93% and 100% to Dems.

The numbers from Absolute Return and the Center for Responsive Politics come on the heels of several high-profile visits to hedge fund center Greenwich, Conn., by just about all of the high-profile presidential candidates. They do not include the hundreds of thousands of dollars raised by some candidates during recent trip to the southwest Connecticut town.

A New York Times analysis of giving in Greenwich—all giving, not just that by hedge fund managers and staff—also shows an advantage for the Democrats of 54% to 46%. The wealthy bastion has already given some $1 million to presidential candidates, roughly 40% of their total giving last time around. And since the most recent filings, which cover the first quarter, candidates are thought to have raised another $1 million, often at fundraisers sponsored by hedge fund managers. Notably, Obama raised hundreds of thousands of dollars at a pair of Greenwich events, one at the house of hedge fund billionaire Paul Tudor Jones co-sponsored by fellow hedge fund billionaire George Soros.

And hedge funds play favorites—though employees of Tudor’s Tudor Investment Corp. have also been Republican Mitt Romney’s favorite hedge fund, giving $8,400—even when the candidate is not a former staffer. In addition to Fortress’ pronounced preference for Edwards, SAC Capital Advisors employees has given nearly all of their money—$209,600 out of a total $211,700—to Dodd. Clinton has won $59,800 of San Francisco-based Farallon Capital Management’s $64,100, while York Capital Management favors Obama, giving him $25,300 of its $37,600 total.

Of the Republican funds, Elliott Associates—run by Giuliani friend and major fundraiser Paul Singer—gave all of its $52,200 to the former New York mayor. Bridgewater Associates is also Republican-friendly, giving all of its donations to G.O.P. candidates, especially Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who pocketed $32,100 of its $34,200. The only other Republican-leaning hedge fund in the top 10, Highbridge Capital Management, is something of a purple fund, giving only 61% of its $29,150 to Republicans.

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