PE Donors Line Up Behind Romney’s Campaign

On his way to leading all Republicans in fundraising for the first quarter of 2007, Mitt Romney tapped former colleagues and peers in the buyout business for more than $250,000.

In so doing, Romney led all presidential hopefuls in raising money from private equity pooh-bahs, according to data from the Federal Election Commission. The $257,525 or more raised by the Bain Capital founder from private equity pros during the first three months of this year far outpaced the second place fundraiser from private equity, Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., who collected at least $85,350.

The numbers from the FEC most likely exclude contributions made by donors from smaller buyout firms and by donors who did not list their places of employment. Still, even if incomplete, the numbers paint a clear picture that Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, is the distinct front-runner among private equity professionals donating money to campaigns. His onetime colleagues at Boston-based Bain Capital lined up by the dozen to write $2,300 checks, the federal maximum contribution for a primary campaign. A long list of partners at H.I.G. Capital, the Miami-based buyout shop, also chipped in to Romney’s campaign.

Romney counts several high-wattage backers as members of his camp, including The Blackstone Group Chief Executive Steven Schwarzman, The Carlyle Group Co-Founder Daniel D’Aniello and Thomas H. Lee Equity Partners Co-Chief Anthony DiNovi.

But that’s not to say Romney lured all the marquee names in the buyout business. Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. chief Henry Kravis is a prominent fundraiser for Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz, as is Schwarzman, who gave to two campaigns. Meanwhile, David Bonderman of TPG and Thomas H. Lee (the man, not the firm) put their money behind Clinton in the first quarter, turnaround artist Wilbur Ross handed a fraction of his fortune to Giuliani, and Apollo Management’s Leon Black gave money to Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn.

Sitting a couple rungs down from Obama is Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., who deposited at least $47,900 in checks from private equity leaders in the first quarter, followed by former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, a Republican, who took in at least $47,900, and McCain, who received at least $41,500, according to the FEC. Rounding out the list are Dodd., with $14,600; former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, a Democrat, with $9,900; and former vice presidential contender John Edwards, a Democrat, with $7,400.

Most donors have left room to re-up following the primary—assuming their candidates make it through—where federal elections rules allow another $2,300 donation.—J.H.