Big-dollar donors who once gave to Obama now funding super PAC hitting Grimes for Obama ties

05/14/2014 03:29 PM

Some of the nation’s top investment bankers are using a similar strategy in politics as they take with the markets and are hedging their bets. That often includes giving to leaders from both parties — including efforts to help Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell.

Take for instance the super PAC Kentuckians for Strong Leadership that’s backing McConnell. It is airing an ad criticizing Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes for getting donations from donors who have backed President Barack Obama.

But among Kentuckians for Strong Leadership’s funders are seven high-dollar donors who have given a total of $357,300 to the group as well as to big name Democrats in the past. Five of them gave to Obama in either his 2004 U.S. Senate race or his 2008 run for president.

And that, the Grimes campaign says, is highly hypocritical of the group to run this ad against Grimes:

“This deceptive ad from Mitch McConnell’s Super PAC is hypocrisy at its greatest level. Kentuckians for Strong Leadership needs to either return the money from donors who have give money to Barack Obama or take down their false ad,” Grimes senior campaign advisior Jonathan Hurst said in a statement.

But the contribution records of the donors in question aren’t quite that simple. In fact, many of them have very Republican heavy donation lists with some big Democratic names mixed in.

In fact, one donor—Philip H. Geier of New York— has given to McConnell multiple times but also gave $2,300 to Obama in March of 2007. He gave the same amount to Mitt Romney a month later.

Gregory Wendt, a portfolio manager and investment analyst from California, gave $25,000 to the Kentucky PAC in April . But despite donating to a few Republicans over the years, including U.S. Sen. John McCain multiple times and $500 to George W. Bush in 1999, Wendt has been a strong Democratic donor over the years.

Wendt has given a total of more than $165,000 to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and gave $2,000 to Barack Obama in 2004.

One of the most interesting of the donors is David Herro, a successful fund manager from Chicago who gave $50,000 to Kentuckians for Strong Leadership in March but has a diverse contribution background.

Herro, a strong advocate of gay rights, has donated large sums to Republican groups including $42,000 to the Republican National Committee and $24,000 to the National Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee over time.

The Chicago native also wrote checks to Obama in both his 2004 U.S. Senate race and 2007 when Obama was running for president.

Herro has contributed to other big-name Democrats including Joe Lieberman and John Edwards. But most notably, Herro has given a lot of money out of his own pocket to Democrat Rahm Emanuel’s campaign for Chicago mayor. Kentucky Republicans also have criticized Grimes for fundraising with Emanuel.

Another Emanuel and former Obama supporter is Chicago-based hedge fund manager Kenneth C. Griffin. Griffin, who gave $50,000 to Kentuckians for Strong Leadership last year, has also donated to McConnell and Anne Northup in the past including donations to McConnell as recently as June 2013.

Other donors include Robert A. Day, who was ranked among the world’s richest people by Forbes in 2006, California-based oil company CEO Steven Chazen and Cisco Systems CEO John T. Chambers who gave to Senate Majority leader and McConnell foe Harry Reid in 2007.

The spokesman for Kentuckians for Strong Leadership, Scott Jennings, noted that none of the donors gave to Obama in his 2012 re-election. And he said unlike Grimes, they are running away from the president.

“Like many Americans, these folks who gave to us had buyer’s remorse after watching Barack Obama’s moderate rhetoric become an extremist, economy-destroying, left-wing record in office. You’ll note none of them re-upped with Obama in 2012,” Jennings said. “Grimes is attempting to follow the Obama model and we will continue reminding Kentuckians that she backs the Obama platform and is funded by his most ardent supporters.”

Political reporter Nick Storm contributed to this report.


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