Ryan brings fundraising prowess to Romney's presidential bid

WASHINGTON/NEW YORK Tue Aug 14, 2012 7:58pm EDT

Wisconsin Representative Paul Ryan listens during a campaign event at Monterey Mills in Janesville, Wisconsin, June 18, 2012. REUTERS/Larry Downing

Wisconsin Representative Paul Ryan listens during a campaign event at Monterey Mills in Janesville, Wisconsin, June 18, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Larry Downing

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WASHINGTON/NEW YORK (Reuters) - Paul Ryan, the Wisconsin congressman who has breathed new life into Republican Mitt Romney's bid for the White House as his vice presidential running mate, also brings to the ticket his status as a fundraising heavyweight.

During his 14-year career in Congress, Ryan has been propelled by sizeable donations from insurance companies and other players in the financial sector, including notable hedge fund names.

Ryan's campaign has so far reported raising $4.3 million this election cycle, with $5.4 million in cash on hand as of July 25, making it one of the top fundraising congressional campaigns this year.

His leadership Prosperity PAC, or political action committee, has collected another $3.7 million this cycle.

The biggest contributors behind Ryan this cycle are family members and employees of Elliott Management, a Wall Street hedge fund run by prominent Republican donor Paul Singer, who has helped raise millions for the party, including for Romney.

Now, as Romney's vice presidential pick, Ryan is already energizing donors, especially those on the Wall Street scene.

Anthony Scaramucci, managing partner at alternative investment firm SkyBridge Capital LLC, said people in the hedge fund community with whom he has spoken are "ecstatic" about the Ryan choice.

"Of everybody in the Republican leadership, there's nobody that understands pro-growth economic policies and how massive deficit spending can actually lead to a drag on job creation better than Paul Ryan," said Scaramucci.

Scaramucci, who is one of the eight co-chairs of Romney's National Finance Committee, gave $5,000 last year to Ryan's Prosperity PAC.

Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul said the campaign raised $7.4 million through 101,000 online donations in the 72 hours after naming Ryan as Romney's vice presidential running mate.

It is hard to judge whether that was a boost from the previous pace. In July, Romney raised an average of just under $3.3 million a day for his campaign and the Republican party - adding up to about $9.8 million in 72 hours. But that amount includes both smaller donations submitted online and other, generally bigger checks submitted in person or by mail.

BIG NAMES

Ryan, a 42-year-old Washington insider who has spent practically his entire career on Capitol Hill, has in recent years garnered national attention for his dramatic proposals to slash the federal budget.

The campaign money has followed.

Financial firms went all-out for Ryan in the 2010 election cycle, when Republicans swept into the majority in the House of Representatives and Ryan became chairman of the powerful House Budget Committee.

That year, Ryan received nearly $500,000 from the securities and investment industry, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan research group.

According to CRP, top givers included Elliott employees with $35,419, and Affiliated Managers Group, a Massachusetts-based asset manager, with $22,666.

Ryan also received $23,364 from SAC Capital Advisors, one of the world's biggest and most successful hedge funds that is run by billionaire Steven Cohen.

Representatives for Cohen and Singer declined comment.

Topping the list of Ryan's 2010 donors is Northwestern Mutual, a life insurance company based in Milwaukee, in Ryan's home state of Wisconsin, according to a tally by CRP.

Northwestern's PAC and employees have given $139,335 to Ryan's campaign and his leadership PAC since his first run for Congress in 1998, according to a Reuters analysis of contribution records.

"Congressman Ryan - whose district includes our Franklin, Wis., Campus - has always expressed a willingness to listen to our views on public policy matters and appreciates the importance of individuals' planning for their financial security," company spokeswoman Betsy Hoylman said in an email.

Among Ryan's other top donors over the course of his career are mobile carrier AT&T with $82,625 and drug company Abbott Laboratories with $74,615, according to a Reuters analysis of donations to Ryan's campaign and his leadership PAC.

Ryan has received $113,000 from the PAC of the energy company Koch Industries, run by David and Charles Koch, prominent conservative financiers and big donors in the 2012 election campaign, the analysis shows.

Many of Ryan's biggest donations came from trade groups, including the National Beer Wholesalers Association at $97,500, National Auto Dealers Association at $81,250, National Association of Home Builders with $92,500 and National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors with $72,500, according to the Reuters review.

WILL SMALL DONOR GIVE?

While Ryan's youthful energy has fired up the Republican Party's conservative base, the fundraising disclosures show Ryan appealing to a similar group of donors - retired professionals, insurance and finance workers - as Romney.

What is less clear is Ryan's ability to attract small donors.

Romney and the Republican Party have outraised President Barack Obama and the Democrats for the past three months in a row, topping $100 million a month largely thanks to his appeal to a disgruntled Wall Street.

One area where Romney lags is Obama's historic advantage: the small donors, which are seen as a gauge of grassroots enthusiasm and support.

Obama has raised almost 40 percent from donors giving $200 or less as of June 30, compared with Romney's haul of only 15 percent from such donors, according to an analysis by the Campaign Finance Institute.

Some observers argue that Ryan, who plays up his Midwestern roots, could offset Romney's lackluster appeal to less-wealthy Americans.

But Ryan's history hardly indicates an outpouring of grassroots enthusiasm. Ryan has already raised more this election than his 2010 haul of $3.8 million, but no thanks to small donors. Their contributions dropped to 15 percent of his haul from 22 percent in 2010, according to Reuters' analysis of Ryan's campaign donations.

(Reporting by Alina Selyukh and Alexander Cohen in Washington, and Sam Forgione in New York; Editing by Karey Wutkowski and Christopher Wilson)

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