Democratic presidential nominee Bill Clinton has received the largest share of his financial support--at least $2.6 million--from lawyers and lobbyists, according to a new study of campaign contributions made public on Friday.
While it is not unusual for candidates to depend on politically active law and lobbying firms for support, Clinton's heavy reliance on them tends to contradict his efforts to separate himself from the Washington and political Establishment.
Clinton's campaign contributions from lawyers and lobbyists represent more than 20% of the $11.8 million he collected from individual contributors through the end of May. His biggest benefactors in the legal community were the New York law firms of Willkie, Farr & Gallagher, whose employees and family members have contributed at least $48,200, and Skaden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, which was responsible for $28,750.
Clinton also has received considerable support from big securities firms such as Goldman, Sachs & Co. in New York and Stephens Inc. in his hometown of Little Rock, Ark. In fact, Goldman Sachs employees and their family members were responsible for the biggest contributions from a single firm: $98,700.
The study was conducted by the nonpartisan National Library on Money and Politics, which identified the occupations of nearly 60% of Clinton's contributors. Although those who donate $200 or more are required by law to disclose their occupations, many ignore that requirement. As a result, the study's findings are believed to underestimate the participation of occupational groups.
A more in-depth study by The Times found that Stephens employees and their family members had contributed at least $83,330 to Clinton's presidential campaign. But the National Library study attributed only $29,150 to contributors related to Stephens.
Stephens has benefited financially during Clinton's tenure as governor of Arkansas by brokering the tax-free bonds issued by the Arkansas Development Finance Authority. Stephens is also the largest outside stockholder in Freightways Corp., a trucking company that received an $8.6-million loan from the Development Finance Authority in 1989.
According to the study, donors related to securities and investment firms have contributed at least $558,200 to Clinton. Among other industries, real estate accounted for at least $315,850; retired persons, $261,821; television and movies, $235,475; education, $197,483; business services, $192,175; government officials and public employees, $167,274; agriculture, $183,792; communications and electronics, $445,597; construction, $249,600; and transportation, $80,975.
Although labor political action committees have contributed heavily to both Clinton and the Democratic National Committee, individual donors who identified themselves as labor union members gave him only slightly more than $10,000. Clinton also got less than $10,000 from people who identified themselves as working in the defense industry.
Presidential campaigns traditionally operate almost entirely on individual donations, not on PAC contributions. In presidential campaigns, individuals are permitted to give a maximum of $1,000 to a presidential candidate during the primary season. The general election campaign is financed primarily with public funds.
The study does not include so-called "soft money" contributions, which are exempt from federal restrictions. While presidential candidates raise such funds themselves, these contributions are funneled through party organizations and do not show up in the candidate's own campaign fund.
The library also is studying President Bush's campaign donors. At the end of June, Bush had raised $25.6 million, received $8.1 million in federal matching funds and had $7.8 million in the bank.