Obama’s Grassroots Moneybags: The Top 19 Organizing for Action Donors

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President Barack Obama speaks about the healthcare reform laws, known as Obamacare, at an Organizing for Action event in Washington, DC, November 4, 2013.

One of the mottos of Organizing for Action, President Obama’s grassroots advocacy group, pretty much says it all: “Our work didn’t stop on election day.” And neither has Obama’s fundraising.

The organization, which released its third quarter results in mid-October, boasts an average contribution around $59 split among more than 355,000 Americans. But the OFA haul of nearly $21 million this year has been led by 19 individuals—including one married couple—that have raised $100,000 or more for the organization, or over $3.3 million combined. Here are the 19 individuals, with their title and total amount given, who form the big-money core of the Obama effort.

Fred Eychaner, CEO of Newsweb Corp., $500,000

Eychaner has ponied up as much as anyone else for OFA. Ironically, liberals can thank Fox News and the Wall Street Journal media titan, Republican billionaire Rupert Murdoch, for Eychaner’s generosity: Eychaner, the CEO of Newsweb Corp., a Chicago-based commercial printing company, sold Murdoch a Chicago television station for $425 million in 2002.

In 2012, Eychaner gave $3.5 million to Priorities USA (infamous for running an ad basically blaming Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney for a woman’s cancer death), nearly $4 million to Majority PAC, $3.75 million to House Majority PAC, and another $750,000 for Women Vote!, according to the Center for Responsive Politics (CRP). He also bundled at least $500,000 for Obama.

A ballet-lover, Eychaner was appointed by President Obama in 2010 as a General Trustee of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. He is also on the Chicago Joffrey Ballet Board of Directors, which holds Mayor and former Obama Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel as Honorary Chairman. It seems that Eychaner, who supported Hillary Clinton in the 2008 Democratic primary, has earned Obama’s graces. But he has also stayed in Hillary’s, donating more than $25 million to the Clinton Foundation, according to the Washington Post.

David Shaw, founder and chairman of D.E. Shaw Inc., speaks on a panel at the Computer Forum Symposium in Stanford, Calif. in 2006.

Kimberly White / Bloomberg News / Getty Images

David Shaw

David Shaw, Founder of hedge fund D.E. Shaw & Co., $500,000

In 1996, Fortune called Shaw’s company, D.E. Shaw & Co., “the ultimate quant shop, a nest of mathematicians, computer scientists, and other devotees of quantitative analysis who use their arcane sciences to monitor the world’s financial markets and squeeze profits out of places most people would never think of looking.”

Shaw’s success in the years since have allowed him to leave his perch atop Wall Street and conduct research in the field of computational biochemistry and promote Democratic causes. As a top Democrat backer, he and his wife Beth have doled out half a million to OFA, bundled between $200,000 and $500,000 for the Obama 2012 campaign, and hosted fundraisers at his Upper West side home in New York city. He served on the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology for Presidents Clinton (1994) and Obama (2009) and is now worth $3.5 billion, according to Forbes.

Shaw’s and Eychaner’s fundraising of $500,000 each would have allowed them the privilege of serving on an advisory board with quartely meetings with the president, according to a February report in the New York Times, but the White House has subsequently disputed a price-for-access program.

 Amy Goldman Fowler, Real Estate Heiress, $250,000

Fowler is the daughter of Sol Goldman, a real estate investor who once co-owned the Chrysler building. Despite donating at least $1.5 million to Planned Parenthood in 2011 and 2012, Fowler is much better known in vegetable garden circles than for her Democratic efforts. But if her continued spending holds up—Fowler has already given $250,000 to Planned Parenthood’s Action Fund for the 2013-2014 cycle—she’ll be better known how she uses her funds as a heiress than her last book, The Heirloom Tomato.

Philip Munger, Philanthropist, $250,000

The first, single largest contribution to Organizing for Action came from New York philanthropist Munger, the son of Charles Munger, the billionaire who serves as right-hand man to Obama-pal Warren Buffett. Philip Munger has been active in Democratic causes, donating $450,000 to left-leaning candidates since 2008, according to the Financial Times. Philip’s brother Charles, on the other hand, gave over $2 million to Romney and various political groups in the 2012 cycle, according to CRP.

Judith and Bill Scheide, Philanthropists, $250,000

The Scheides gave $317,600 to Democratic causes in the 2012 cycle, and bundled between $50,000 and $100,000 according to CRP. They are members of Corporate Accountability International and have an eponymous rare book collection (including a Shakespeare First Folio) within Princeton University’s library. Bill, a musician who founded the Bach Aria Group, earned his money the old-fashioned way, inheriting his family’s fortune from Standard Oil.

Ryan Smith, Man of Mystery, $201,260

Smith is identified in OFA records as hailing from Salt Lake City, Utah, but otherwise there are few public records identifying him. According to CRP, Smith is not related to Utah’s Ryan Smith of Qualtrics.

Anne Getty Earhart, Heiress $150,000

Earhart inherited $400 million from her grandfather, oilman J. Paul Getty, in 1986, according to California Watch. In the 2012 cycle, she gave three Democratic PACs a total of $1.75 million, according to CRP. A trustee on the California Nature Conservancy board, she has donated in the past to PACs promoting candidates with environmental friendly records.

Marcy Carsey

Ryan Miller / Getty Images

Marcy Carsey, T.V. producer, $125,000

Although she wasn’t featured in John McCain’s 2008 attack ad, Carsey is a Hollywood super star, and Obama is lucky to have her. Carsey, of Carsey-Werner productions, is one of most powerful people in show business, responsible for some of TVs most popular shows, including, “The Cosby Show,” ”Roseanne,” and “That 70s Show.” The Emmy-award winning television producer has donated $20 million to her alma mater, the University of New Hampshire, to create a public policy school.

In the past Carsey has been a strong supporter of Emily’s List, which supports pro-choice female Democrats, and she’s earnestly awaiting the first female president—she donated in June $25,000 to the Ready for Hillary PAC, the ceiling limit the group has allowed. She hosted Jon Carson, the OFA director, Obama’s re-election manager Jim Messina and finance director Rufus Gifford for a State of the Union watch party earlier this year.

John D. Goldman, former Chairman of Willis Insurance Services of California, Inc., $125,000

Goldman made his money in insurance but has turned to focus on the arts and Stanford, where he earned his MBA. A President of the San Francisco Symphony, Goldman was named by President Obama to the Advisory Committee on the Arts for the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in 2011. Goldman has already spent nearly $65,000 this year in preparation for the 2014 midterms, and threw in a few thousand for Rep. Joe Kennedy’s reelection race.

Nicola M. Miner, Oracle Heiress, $125,000

The daughter of a co-founder of Oracle, Miner gave $123,813 in the 2012 cycle, most of it to the Democratic National Committee, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, and three other Democratic PACs—House Majority, Majority, and American Bridget 21st Century. Miner has given over $30,000 to the DCCC this year.

Milner and her husband, Boonville author Robert Mailer Anderson, are also big bundlers. They hosted Obama for a dinner last year, charging the 70 supporters reportedly $35,800 per ticket. In October, the couple held a luncheon at the San Francisco Jazz Center for Obama to benefit the DNC; tickets reportedly ran up to $10,000 for a family of five.

Imaad Zuberi, Venture Capitalist, $125,000

Zuberi, who sits on the Executive Committee for the National Coalition for Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces, is a partner at a boutique private equity firm in California. During the President’s reelection race, Zuberi bundled at least $500,000 for the President, and gave over $50,000 of his own money to Obama and the DNC in 2012, according to CRP. This year, Zuberi has given over $30,000 to the DNC and over $10,000 more to Democratic incumbents.

Stephen Cloobeck

Jonathan Alcorn / Bloomberg / Getty Images

Stephen Cloobeck

Stephen Cloobeck, Founder of Diamond Resorts International, $100,000

Stephen Cloobeck is the Chairman and Founder of Diamond Resorts International, which owns and operates vacation ownership resorts with its subsidiaries around the world. A bipartisan donor, Cloobeck has given thousands of dollars this year to House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and the newest Senator, Cory Booker (D-N.J.), according to CRP. But his company contributed over $420,000 during the 2012 cycle to only Democrats, including Majority PAC, the DNC, failed Nevada Senate candidate Shelley Berkley, and President Obama. Cloobeck has served causes as disparate as the Nevada Cancer Institute, the Hebrew Academy, the Police Athletic League, and Boy Scouts of America.

William Freeman, Chairman of Freeman Webb Inc., $100,000

Bill Freeman and his partner Jimmy Webb run a property and real estate investment company in Nashville. In the 2012 cycle, Freeman nearly tripled his 2008 spending, donating $66,400 to Democrats, according to CRP. This year, Freeman has given several thousand dollars between Democratic Party of Tennessee and Sens. Al Franken (D-Minn.) and Mark Pryor (D-Ark.), according to CRP. Freeman has been active in immigration issues, giving $100,000 to Conexión Américas, which aides Latino immigrants in Middle Tennessee in their path to citizenship.

Evan Goldberg, Co-Founder of NetSuite, $100,000

Goldberg, a co-founder and CTO of NetSuite, a cloud-based business management software provider, has given the DNC $32,000 for the 2014 midterms, and a few grand to Democrat Ro Khanna, Silicon Valley’s heartthrob challenger for California’s 17th district, currently held by Democrat Rep. Mike Honda.

Kenneth Levine, McAfee Executive, $100,000

Ken Levine, a senior executive of McAfee’s security management business, has donated this year $50,000 to Americans for Responsible Solutions, a gun-control advocacy group set up by former Rep. Gabby Giffords (D-Ariz.) and her husband, astronaut Mark Kelly, according to CRP.

Olan Mills II, Former CEO of Olan Mills photography, $100,000

Before selling his company in 2012, Olan Mills was the CEO of Olan Mills photography, a national chain based out of Chattanooga. In 2012, Mills extended his reach in the state’s Democratic party by contributing $10,000 to Rep. Jim Cooper’s reelection, and $5,000 each to losing challengers Eric Stewart and Mary Margaret Headrick. Mills hasn’t been deterred by his mixed success: he has already given $32,400 to the DNC this year. Mills is a board member of the United Way of Chattanooga.

Ian T. Simmons, Investor, $100,000

Ian Simmons is married to Liesel Anne Pritzker, heiress to the Hyatt hotels fortune and a niece of Penny Pritzker, the Secretary of Commerce. With their donation to OFA, Ian and Liesel Simmons are continuing a long history of Pritzkers in politics. The Pritzker Group, led by Tony and J.B. Pritzker, gave $184,850 in the 2012 cycle to Republican groups and candidates, including Speaker of the House John Boehner, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, and Romney. In the same cycle, Pritzker Realty Group, founded by Penny, bundled over $500,000 for Obama in 2012.

Jon Stryker, Philanthropist, $100,000

Jon Stryker is an architect and heir to the Stryker Corp. medical equipment family fortune. The founder of the Arcus Foundation, Stryker claims to have awarded grants totaling $122 million to two issues close to his heart: gay and lesbian causes and great ape conservation. Stryker is no stranger to political donations either, contributing over $800,000 in the 2010 cycle, and over $2 million in the 2012 cycle, according to various reports. Stryker has already given the House Majority PAC $200,00 this year—just a drop in the bucket for a man worth $1.4 billion, according to Forbes.

5 comments
Openminded1
Openminded1

They left out the Money that the muslim brotherhood gave to Obama.s campaign. $100,000. I wonder why they would not mention that.? And the money I Zuberi gave the party for barry all about Syria and in their interest , no conflict there right? What bs this Obama is.

rproman824
rproman824

Please provide a similar list of donors to Republican candidates running for presidential office. I bet it dwarfs those contributions to Obama.

Truth_Seeker
Truth_Seeker

"We are experiencing a reality based on a thin veneer of lies and illusions." --Bill Hicks.


To see through the lies and illusions and realize the TRUTH, open "The Present" at TruthContest--com.

TyPollard
TyPollard

@rproman824 

It's also important to note that the Democratic donors are pushing for policies that hurt their own individual interests for the betterment of all Americans.