Obama’s New Mega-Money

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On Friday, President Obama’s campaign released a list of bundlers, the elite fundraisers who collect checks from their very rich friends and families, funneling hundreds of thousands of dollars to a presidential candidate throughout an election season. There are plenty of holdovers from Obama’s 2008 campaign — famous names like Vogue editor Anna Wintour and DreamWorks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg still populate the top of the list — but roughly a third of the people in the highest tier, those who have already gathered $500,000 or more for Obama’s re-election campaign, did not serve as bundlers in 2008. The additions to the $500K-plus club offer an interesting cross-section of Democratic donors and well illustrate the moneyed coalition that helped raise $47 million for the Obama campaign between April and June.

Silicon Valley has produced a lot of big donors in recent years, and Obama has taken every opportunity to woo wealthy denizens of the tech mecca. San Francisco cloud computing whizz Marc Benioff is one such addition to the elite bundlers list. He’s given tens of thousands of dollars to both Democrats and Republicans over the last decade, and in 2007, he gave $2,300, the maximum allowed individual donation, to Obama’s campaign. And to Mitt Romney’s. And to John McCain’s. Political donations are often as much about access as they are ideology, and Benioff seems to be no exception. He donated heavily to George W. Bush and the RNC in 2000, and was later named a co-chair of the Information Technology Advisory Committee in the Bush White House.

Philly powerbroker David Cohen, an Executive VP at Comcast and, going way back, a former chief of staff to Ed Rendell, is also the pragmatic type. He’s sprinkled a lot of money around to candidates and committees from both parties, which makes sense given that he runs Comcast’s corporate political action committee.

Jon Corzine is probably the least surprising addition to Obama’s bundler stable. In 2008, Corzine was still serving as governor of New Jersey. But the fabulous wealthy former Goldman Sachs CEO has the kind of deep-pocketed connections that bundlers thrive on, and as former Democrat officeholder, he’s a no-brainer to bring in big cash. Noah Mamet, a veteran Democratic fundraiser and former finance director for Dick Gephardt turned consultant, also appears on the list.

Another natural addition is DNC treasurer Andy Tobias, who’s served in that position since 1999. In addition to being a big Democratic financier, Tobias represents the important and expanding role of gays in the party’s fundraising efforts. Austin social hub Eugene Sepulveda and Wall Streeter Charles Myers are the other top gay donors new to the $500K bundler group. Myers is also a part of a marked influx of Clintonites. Florida businessman Steven Green, who’s been giving to the Clintons since 1992 — he also happened to get an ambassadorship to Singapore in 1997 — was in Hillary’s camp in ’08, but is now among Obama’s elite cash wranglers.

Not all bundlers have a long history with the party. Former J.P. Morgan investment banker Azita Raji gave almost no political donations before sending checks to Obama in ’08. But Raji’s become actively involved since and is one of the select few who donated the maximum $30,000 to the DNC in 2010.

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