University employees overwhelmingly supported Democratic candidates in this year’s presidential election, with more than 40 percent of all campaign contributions going to Illinois Democratic Sen. Barack Obama, a Hatchet analysis of campaign filings found.
GW faculty and administrators who listed their employers as GW in Federal Election Commission documents donated $21,075 to the Illinois senator’s campaign, and $16,520 to Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.), the next-largest recipient.
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) was the third-largest recipient and the overwhelming Republican leader, with $7,100 coming from GW staff.
Other donations went to former Democratic candidate Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico ($3,850), former candidate Mitt Romney ($1,000), and former candidate and former senator Fred Thompson ($1,250). No other candidate received more than $500.
Employees donated a sum of $52,000 to presidential candidates during this election cycle. Republican candidates only received 18 percent of the total money donated.
History professor Adele Alexander, who supported Obama, was the second-largest contributor with $3,300. She said she supported Obama’s campaign because the Obamas are family friends from when they worked at the University of Chicago with her daughter.
“Since the campaign began we have been further convinced of Obama’s integrity, vision and inspirational ability to lead the country,” Alexander said. “(We) wanted to support his candidacy.”
The University’s support of Obama is not surprising, said Paul Pelletier, a fund-raising consultant and owner of Direct Campaign Solutions. Pelletier, who received a graduate certificate from the Elliot School in 2004, said educators generally do not contribute as much money as other individuals because they consider themselves to be in an “ivory tower.”
“You wonder ‘Why aren’t they as well contributing?’ and I think the answer to that question is at least in part that educators . consider themselves set apart from society and better than the rest of society,” Pelletier said.
Educators tend not to donate money to political campaigns unless their interest is sparked by a certain candidate, Pelletier said. He said Obama has the potential to catch their interest.
“I think what you’ll see is this election is going to be a lot different than most elections and probably any election that you’ve seen since 1960 – is that a lot more educators, academics, teachers, whatnot are going to be contributing if Barack Obama becomes the Democratic nominee.”
GW Law School staff made more campaign contributions – about $16,000 in total – than staff from other areas of the University. GW Medical Center employees also donated a significant amount – $12,250 in total.
Pelletier said law professors tend to donate more money than others.
“Lawyers are both ideologically and politically involved, probably more so than any other single profession in America,” he said. “Part of that is because they have a vested interest in how their profession is being oversighted by the government.”
Pelletier also said university officials may not contribute as much money because they want to appear neutral. GW administrators were largely missing from the FEC filings at a mere $2,000.
Administrators, Pelletier said, try to appear neutral so parents are not put off by what is perceived as a liberal agenda.
“They as parents don’t want to send their students to a university that doesn’t espouse the values they have or at the very least tries to be neutral in their value systems,” he said. “As a result academics are starting to say ‘We need to give the impression that we are nonpartisan.'”
The largest single contribution came from Howard Beales, associate professor of Strategic Management and Public Policy in the business school. Beales, a former director of the Federal Trade Commission Bureau of Consumer Protection, donated $4,600 to McCain.