Obama showcases support from Romney’s equity peers

Neil Munro White House Correspondent
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President Barack Obama’s deputies are fitting Gov. Mitt Romney up as a heartless and greedy investor, eager to strip-mine companies and throw workers onto the street.

He’s a “corporate raider who thinks outsourcing jobs, stripping down companies, and bankrupting them for profit represents the best of the free enterprise system,” Brad Woodhouse, the spokesman for the Democratic National Committee declared Jan. 12.

But on Tuesday Obama sat down with three of Romney’s professional peers whom he had recruited for his resume-boosting presidential “Council on Jobs and Competitiveness.”

The televised campaign-style event showed Obama listening and nodding as Romney’s peers offered him advice on how to spend taxpayers’ money.

But Obama’s investor-advisers aren’t free market Republicans, such as Mitt, who argues that his investments have helped create 110,000 jobs in the last 20 years.

Instead, they’re Democrats, and they include John Doerr, a senior partner at California-based Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, and Mark Gallogly, a co-founder chief of Centerbridge Partners.

The third, who has feet in both camps, is Richard Parsons. He’s the former chief of Time Warner, the current head of Citigroup — which got a huge federal bailout in 2009 — and a senior adviser at Providence Equity Partners.

Obama made sure to praise his own council Tuesday. “This has not been a show council. … It will pay off in terms of solidifying this recovery and allow us to move forward in a way where it actually translates into jobs,” he told the TV cameras.

But the TV image of Obama kibbitzing with the capitalists is much different from the image of Romney that was painted Jan. 16 by the DNC chairwoman, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

Back then, a full 12 hours before Obama’s White House meeting, she described Romney as “a corporate raider for Bain Capital [whose mission] was never job creation — it was putting profits over people by bankrupting companies, outsourcing jobs and laying off workers.”

But these three investors at the White House Jan. 17 have shared with Obama some the wealth that they’re gained by using government to boost their investments, line their pockets and goose their social status.

John Doerr earned billions of dollars at the intersection of government and capitalism, for example, by donating to Democratic politicians while investing in green-tech companies that benefit from Democratic policies.

Doerr’s firm, California-based Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, is one of the investors in Fisker Automative, a Finland-based auto company that got a $529 million loan guarantee from Obama’s administration. After the guarantee was confirmed, Fisker dropped plans to manufacture the autos in the United States.

But Doerr has given back by donating $171,400 to Democratic politicians since 2007.

He’s also given $100 to a single GOP politician in 2010.

The other partners at his firm have given back roughly $550,000 to Democratic politicians and groups, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

Republicans got roughly $150,000 from the company since 2007. In 2007, Romney got $2,100 in a donation from one the firm’s partners.

The partisan skew is routine in the investment world, where investors routinely lobby government officials to shield or boost their private investments.

For example, Romney’s former partners at Bain have donated roughly $3 million to political causes since 1990. Democratic causes and legislators got 75 percent of the cash, while GOP causes got roughly one-quarter of the funds. Romney got only $130,000 from his mostly-Democratic colleagues. (RELATED: Romney attacked for work at Bain Capital while Democratic-leaning Bain execs are spared)

The second equity investor at the White House meeting, Gallogly, raised somewhere between $200,000 and $500,000 for Obama by bundling donations from his friends.

He has also sent $270,000 in 66 donations to Democrats since 2007. That makes sense, if only because he’s invested in GMAC Commercial Finance, an auto-lending firm whose value is shaped by Obama’s bailouts for General Motors and Chrysler.

Still, Gallogly did not completely ignore Republicans. He sent one donation worth $2,400 to South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham.

The third attendee, Parsons, is a partner at Providence, whose principals have donated $356,100 since 2007 to political causes. More than half went to Democrats. Again, the donations are rational, because the firm has invested in many companies whose fate is tied to government policy. For example, the firm has invested in the Spanish-language media firm, Univision, whose audience and revenues are boosted by Democrats’ support for Hispanic immigration and by their opposition to cultural integration.

As head of AOL/Time-Warner, and now as head of Citigroup, Parsons donated $84,900 to Democratic and GOP causes since 2007, including the maximum limit of $4,600 to Obama in 2008.

In 2007 and 2008, Citigroup donated $5.74 million to politicians, 63 percent of which went to Democrats.

That kind of love is returned many-fold in D.C. — Citigroup got a $45 billion aid package in 2009 following the bursting of the government-inflated real estate bubble that had earlier generated billions of dollars in benefits for Citigroup and for Democratic politicians, activists and faithful voters.

Parsons is also giving back by serving as a board member of The Estee Lauder Companies, Inc.

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