Although the Obama administration and a Democratic-controlled Congress now own a majority stake of General Motors, the retired executive appointed yesterday to be the company's new CEO, Edward E. Whitacre, Jr., is a veteran Republican fundraiser. A bundler for the 2004 Bush-Cheney campaign, Whitacre and his wife Linda have donated a total of $81,000 to political candidates since 1990, yet none of that money has gone to the man who now essentially employs him.
Though 80 percent of their contributions have gone the GOP's way, the Whitacres have also donated to prominent Democrats. They gave now-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton $1,000 during her presidential run, former President Bill Clinton $500 during his 1992 presidential bid and now-White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel $1,000 during the 2008 cycle. Despite some contributions to high-profile Democrats, the Whitacres' ties to Republicans are strong. Aside from contributing $10,200 to Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) during his bid for the presidency, Whitacre became a Bush "Ranger" bundling more than $200,000 for the former president's reelection effort, according to the Center for Public Integrity. He also gave $2,000 from his own pockets to Bush in 2004.
The Whitacres also seem to prefer their fellow Texans. A native of the Lone Star State, Whitacre and his wife have given Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) $6,300 since the beginning of the 2008 cycle. The Texas Tech-educated executive and his wife have also given money to six other current and former Texas congressmen, including one Democrat. They have donated a total of $6,000 to Sens. John Cornyn and Kay Bailey Hutchison, both Republicans, over the past 10 years.
Until 2007, Whitacre was the CEO of AT&T, which has given more money to political candidates ($41.5 million) than any other company, union, trade association, or ideological group since 1989. AT&T's overall donations also leaned Republican. Between 1995 and 2006, the company gave at least 55 percent of its donations to GOP candidates and committees.
GM, like AT&T, is no stranger to political donations. Before declaring bankruptcy this month, the automaker ranked as one of CRP's Heavy Hitters, the leading 100 contributors to federal politics. Individual employees, as well as corporate PACs, gave just under $10 million to lawmakers over the past 19 years, with Republicans collecting 61 percent of that total. Earlier this month Capital Eye reported that GM will scale back some political operations but will continue to lobby lawmakers with an in-house staff.
CRP in the News
In G.M.'s Chairman, a Choice Beyond Politics (New York Times, June 11, 2009)