GW staff contributions to Obama are highest yet

Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama collected nearly $15,000 from GW staff in donations this September – more than any other month this campaign season, according to a Hatchet analysis of federal campaign contributions.

Faculty and administrators who listed GW as their employer in federal election documents donated $14,550 to Obama in September – $6,150 more than in August, according to the Federal Elections Commission.

Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain – who opted to receive public financing for the general election – received $1,200 from University staff in August and September, according to FEC records. McCain could only receive donations for “legal and accounting expenses associated with complying with campaign finance law,” the FEC Web site said.

Many Obama contributors directed their donations to the Obama Victory Fund, records show. The Obama Victory Fund is a joint fundraising account that allows donations over the $2,300 limit, said Steven Billet, director of legislative affairs at the Graduate School of Political Management.

“These fundraising vehicles generally unite a candidate, Obama, a party, the DNC and some state-based organization, the California Democratic Party,” Billet said, adding, “It does not fall under the hard dollar restrictions for political action committees or individual contributions.”

American studies professor Phyllis Palmer said she supported Obama throughout the primaries, but she only donated to his campaign in August.

“I don’t know why I sat out the primary, but I knew I wanted to contribute to the Obama effort,” Palmer said. “And finally I just went to the campaign Web site and pledged off my credit card . I probably would have given more if the market hadn’t crashed.”

Palmer said her support for Obama stems from her respect for his use of experts and his commitment to running a campaign based on community organizing.

“I viewed Hillary Clinton’s candidacy as another example of dynastic politics in the U.S., which I believe is antithetical to democratic participation,” she added, explaining why she supported Obama over Clinton.

Overall, Obama has raised $64,745 in 2008 from GW staff – almost 49 percent of total contributions from GW. Faculty and administration have only donated $9,100 to McCain – or 10 percent of total contributions. GW faculty and staff donated a total of nearly $140,000 throughout the entire election cycle, including donations to past presidential contenders.

Billet told The Hatchet in early September that he believed donations to Obama would increase in the final two months.

“What I think you’ll see is the people who have given money to Obama – I think you’ll see them giving more,” he said. “Once people make contributions to political campaigns, they become much more interested because they think they have a stake in it.”

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