Staff donations to Obama rise

University employees donated overwhelmingly to Barack Obama’s presidential campaign this year, with the Illinois senator receiving more than 68 percent of all GW contributions, a Hatchet analysis of campaign filings found.

Faculty and administrators who listed GW as their employer in federal election documents donated $41,795 to Obama in 2008 – about twice the amount he received last year. During the entire election cycle, GW staffers sent the candidate more than $60,000.

Former presidential candidate Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.), the next-largest recipient, received $11,462 in 2008.

University employees donated $7,900 to Republican presidential candidate John McCain in 2008 and about $15,000 during the entire cycle.

“Most universities have a generally liberal democratic tendency,” said Steven Billet, director of legislative affairs at the Graduate School of Political Management. “So when it comes to presidential elections, it’s somewhat common for university campuses to be more Democratic and, in our current environment, Obama supporters.”

Altogether, University employees donated $115,052 to presidential campaigns throughout the election cycle, with only 13 percent going to Republican candidates. Only donations of $200 or more are reported to the FEC.

Contributions to Clinton stopped after May 7, a month before she officially closed her campaign. McCain received only one contribution from GW staff after that date.

Billet, who contributed $100 to Obama last week, said he predicts that GW staff will continue to support the Obama campaign as the general election wears on. He added that people become more interested in the campaign after making a contribution because they feel as if they have more of a stake in the election.

GW Law School staff contributed about $31,000 to campaigns – more than any other area of the University. School of Public Health and Health Policy employees donated the second most – $14,750 – throughout the election cycle. University administrators contributed only $4,200 to presidential campaigns.

Billet said law professors are more likely to donate for several reasons.

“The law faculty is large, much larger than other faculties, and are probably more politically attuned to the political world,” he said. “A large percentage of people who study law see it as a segue into the political world.”

He added that lawyers and other legal professionals are extremely active in the campaign world because of the threats of tort reform and other issues.

At least 10 GW employees gave the maximum-allowed $2,300 donation to a presidential candidate. Half of them contributed to Obama, with the rest split between Clinton and McCain.

History professor Adele Alexander, who donated $2,300 to Obama in the primaries and continues to donate to his general election campaign, previously told The Hatchet she met Obama while he was teaching at the University of Chicago in the early 1990s.

She said she and her family donated to Obama because they are “convinced of Obama’s integrity, vision and inspirational ability to lead the country and wanted to support his candidacy.”

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