Two GW Law School faculty members raised up to $500,000 each for the president’s 2012 war chest, according to a list of campaign fundraisers released in October.
Professor Spencer Overton and Associate Dean for Trial Advocacy Alfreda Robinson Bennett are the only University employees listed among the president’s 2012 “bundlers” – donors who fundraise for a candidate and hand over the checks to a campaign in one large sum.
Overton and Robinson both raised between $200,000 and $500,000 for the president's reelection campaign. Obama voluntarily discloses a list of his "volunteer fundraisers," or bundlers, that includes minimum and maximum amounts in ranges.
Overton referred all questions to the Obama campaign’s press shop. Robinson declined to comment.
A presidential race draws interest from high-profile individuals who have “deep pockets” and care about the stakes at hand, Michael Beckel, a spokesman for the Center for Responsive Politics, said.
“I think in any community there are well-connected people who have an interest in politics, and that’s the case with a lot of schools,” he said.
The group’s website lists lawyers and law firms as the top industry among Obama’s bundlers for both the 2008 and 2012 election cycles.
Beckel said bundlers are often rewarded for their ability to funnel in donations with perks, such as face-time at the president's events, better seats at party conventions and sometimes an ambassadorship. More than two dozen of the ambassadors appointed during the president's first term raised significant amounts of funding for the campaign, he said, and traveled to locations including France, Sweden and the Bahamas.
Overton, who previously served as the Obama administration’s principal deputy assistant attorney general for the Office of Legal Policy in the Department of Justice, also raised upwards of $500,000 for the president's 2008 campaign.
About 358 "elites" are sending more than $55,950,000 to Obama's reelection campaign and the Democratic National Committee, according to the center. Twelve percent of donors to the president’s reelection campaign work in the education sector, while 5 percent hold a legal profession, according to the Obama 2012 website.
John Curtis, the director of research and public policy at the American Association of University Professors, said he would not be surprised if faculty were inclined to donate to Democrats.
“There are pretty clear indications that faculty members generally have fairly liberal political opinions, but in terms of donations to candidates for office and also to political parties, quite a bit of the reporting I’ve seen seems to be drawing from very aggregated numbers that are pooling together all college and university employees,” Curtis said.
Out of the 27 individuals who listed the University as their employer on donation paperwork released this summer, two donated to Mitt Romney, while one offered a contribution to Ron Paul. The remaining 24 employees contributed more than $27,000 to the Obama campaign.