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CAMPAIGN '08: DEMOCRATS

Big donors get behind Obama

July 23, 2008|Dan Morain | Times Staff Writer

Even as he touts his base of small donors, Barack Obama is relying heavily on well-heeled contributors who have given $28,500 or more each to Democratic Party committees that will campaign on his behalf.

Obama aides emphasized that the average donation to his campaign in June -- during which he brought in $52 million -- was $68. Over the course of his campaign, the presumed Democratic presidential nominee has raised $340 million. By law, an individual can give no more than $2,300 to a candidate for the primary and $2,300 for the general election.

Obama has established joint fundraising agreements with the Democratic National Committee and two other party committees. Those entities can raise larger sums and spend unlimited amounts on behalf of individual candidates.

Of the $20.3 million Obama's joint fundraising committees amassed in June, 86%, or $17.6 million, came in chunks of $5,000 or more and 64% came in increments of $28,500 or more, campaign finance reports filed over the weekend show.

Frank Clark, head of Commonwealth Edison, which supplies electricity to Chicago, gave $2,300 to Obama early in the campaign and $28,500 last month to the Democratic White House Victory Fund.

John Rogers, founder of the Chicago investment house Ariel Capital, also gave the maximum to Obama's presidential account, and $13,000 to Democratic White House Victory.

According to the campaign, Clark and Rogers are among Obama's largest fundraisers, each having raised more than $200,000 from friends and associates.

Employees at Exelon, the parent company of Commonwealth Edison, have given more than $180,000.

Obama spokesman Ben LaBolt noted that the campaign, unlike the Democratic Party and the fundraising committees, has tapped small donors, raising the bulk of its money in increments of less than $90.

The presumptive Republican nominee, John McCain, also has joint fundraising committees and will probably rely heavily on them in the fall.

Such committees appeal to candidates and donors because contributors can write a single check and have it split among the candidate, the party and related committees.

A review of the campaign finance reports filed over the weekend with the Federal Election Commission showed that attorneys accounted for at least $2.4 million of the $20.3 million the three Obama joint committees raised.

People who listed their occupations as investors or said they worked for investment houses contributed at least an additional $2.85 million. Individuals who said they were chief executive officers, company presidents or board chairmen chipped in $1.8 million. The entertainment industry accounted for $1.5 million.

McDonald's President Donald Thompson and Pepsi Chairman Robert Pohlad each gave $28,500. The Pohlad family, including Minnesota Twins owner Carl Pohlad, gave a combined $170,000 to Democratic committees.

Entertainers who donated $28,500 to the committees include producers Frederick W. Field and Steven Bochco and his wife, Dayna, and actors Samuel L. Jackson and Edward Norton.

NBA star LeBron James donated $20,000.

--

dan.morain@latimes.com

Times researcher Maloy Moore and data analyst Sandra Poindexter contributed to this report.

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