Gay rights, including the controversial gay marriage question, is represented more consistently than any other issue in the foundation giving of Obama’s bundlers. One of the movement’s biggest funders, desktop-publishing software entrepreneur Tim Gill, is also one of President Obama’s biggest bundlers.
Along with UBS financial adviser Scott Miller, whom he married in Massachusetts in 2009, Gill is part of the group of bundlers who have provided the president’s re-election campaign with at least $500,000. He also hosted a Feb. 9 fundraiser for the president whose total haul was reported at $1.4 million.
The Gill Foundation, whose work is now Gill’s primary occupation, discloses on its website that it has handed out more than $118 million in grants, about 80 percent of which has gone to organizations that advocate on behalf of gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgendered people. At least 64 of those grants were payments in excess of $10,000 specifically earmarked for campaigns related to “marriage equality.”
Gill also chairs the Gill Action Fund, a nonprofit advocacy group whose 501(c)(4) status permits it to spend as much as it pleases on legislative campaigns. Through 2010, that spending totaled more than $7.9 million across more than 20 states — including at least $442,000 to the Log Cabin Republicans — all seemingly aimed at promoting same-sex marriage equality.
He isn’t the only Obama bundler with that priority. In October 2011 the Center for Responsive Politics identified more than a dozen on its OpenSecrets.org website who are gay or lesbian. They include two, aside from Gill, who serve on the boards of foundations with gay-rights policy objectives.
Portland, Ore. real estate developer Terry Bean is chairman of the Charles M. Holmes Foundation. He has bundled between $200,000 and $500,000 for Obama. bean was also the first openly gay fundraiser to serve on Obama’s campaign finance committee five years ago.
Bean did not respond to requests for comment, but he told Forbes magazine on May 14 that Obama’s conversion a week earlier on the marriage question would energize gay donors.
“People already know that he’s done so much, like repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” Bean said. “There’s such a distinction between him and Romney. Romney would take us back many years. I think it’ll remind people to give, and how big the stakes are.”
Under Bean’s leadership, the Holmes Foundation has put nearly all of its $3.2 million in grant awards into gay advocacy. The Human Rights Campaign has received more than two-thirds of the total.
New York City public relations counselor Jeff Soref also made the OpenSecrets list. He has bundled between $100,000 and $200,000 for the president. He’s also the only bundler who sits on two foundation boards. Both, the Allan Morrow Foundation and the Calamus Foundation, devote large percentages of their grantmaking to gay rights causes.
And Paul Egerman, who co-founded a computer-aided medical transcription company, now serves the Obama administration’s Department of Health and Human Services as a member of its Health Information Technology Policy Committee. Egerman bundled between $50,000 and $100,000 for Obama’s re-election.
His family foundation’s priorities run the gamut from temples and hospitals to museums and universities, but also included supporting the MassEquality Education Association, a gay-marriage advocacy group, with a $50,000 grant.