A few weeks ago Little India published an article spotlighting some of the Indian American “bundlers” that will be playing a big part in the behind-the-scenes money war this primary season. At least half of them (a group aptly titled “Hillraisers”) will be sending their money Senator Hillary Clinton’s way:
Federal law caps personal contributions in an election cycle to $2,300, limiting individual donations to a presidential campaign to $4,600, as the primaries and the general election count as separate elections.
The way major presidential campaign donors stick out among the tens of thousands who make the maximum permissible contribution is not on the strength of their individual donation as much as by becoming “bundlers.” These bundlers typically package and bundle donations from friends, family, business and professional associates, etc., by hosting private and public fundraising events. Bundlers account for nearly half of the almost $160 million raised collectively by Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama in the first three quarter of 2007.
A Little India analysis of the 2,493 bundlers in the 2008 presidential campaign identified thus far by the public interest watchdog group Public Citizen revealed 21 Indian American bundlers, almost half of whom work on behalf of Sen. Clinton. Sen. Obama has six Indian American bundlers, followed by two each for Sen. John Edwards and Gov Mitt Romney and one for Sen. John McCain. None of the other candidates listed any Indian American bundlers. [Link]
p>For those of you hearing the term “bundlers” for the time, here is an excellent reference. The biggest bundler is someone we’ve blogged about before, most recently in a post by Amardeep last September: Hotelier Sant Singh Chatwal.
Bundlers are far more valuable than the legions of individual donors on whom candidates, and indeed the bundlers rely, as is illustrated by Sen. Clinton’s most visible Indian American bundler, the hotelier Sant Singh Chatwal. Chatwal, whose association with the Clintons dates back to Pres. Clinton’s first primary campaign in 1991, has reportedly raised $3 million for Sen. Clinton, headlined by a 1,200 person dinner in June 2007. He told Little India that he was confident that Indian Americans would easily top $5 million for her campaign. But Chatwal had not pitched in his own personal contribution to her campaign, as of the third quarter of 2007, according to records of the Federal Election Commission. However, several members of his family, including his wife Pardaman Chatwal, and two sons Vivek Chatwal and Vikram Chatwal (who is listed as a $100,000 bundler himself) contributed $4,200 apiece to Sen. Clinton’s primary and general election campaigns. [Link]
p>From the article, here is a list of bundlers for the current campaign season:
Indian American Bundlers
2008 Presidential Campaigns
BUNDLER STATE OCCUPATION AMOUNT CANDIDATE
Sant Chatwal NY Hampshire Hotels & Resorts over $100,000 Hillary Clinton
Vikram Chatwal NY Hampshire Hotels & Resorts over $100,000 Hillary Clinton
Kamil Hasan CA Hitek Venture Partners over $100,000 Hillary Clinton
Talat Hasan CA Hitek Venture Partners over $100,000 Hillary Clinton
Kishore Kaul CA Urbantec Developers over $100,000 Hillary Clinton
Arvind Raghunathan NY Deutsche Bank over $100,000 Hillary Clinton
Anil Shah CA Cardiologist over $100,000 Hillary Clinton
Prakash Shah NJ First Mortgage Realty over $100,000 Hillary Clinton
Ken Singh CA Kenpo Inc. over $100,000 Hillary Clinton
Mahinder Tak MD Physician over $100,000 Hillary Clinton
Vinai K. Thummalapally CO Mam-A Inc. over $100,000 Barack Obama
Deven Parekh NY Insight Venture Partners over $100,000 Barack Obama
Karim Alibhai FL Gencom over $50,000 Barack Obama
Jatinder Bedi IL The Indian Reporter over $50,000 Barack Obama
Sunil Puri IL First Rockford Group over $50,000 Barack Obama
Balvinder Singh IL A-One Carpets over $50,000 Barack Obama
Indra Chatterjee CA Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe Not listed John Edwards
Akshay Rao MN University of Minnesota Not listed John Edwards
A.K. Desai FL Universal Health Care Not listed Mitt Romney
R. Vijay FL Gulf to Bay Cardiovascular Not listed Mitt Romney
K. V. Kumar AZ Business & Strategic Consultants Not listed John McCain
Data for first three quarters of 2007 [Link]
The vast majority of Indian Americans bundlers are supporting Democratic candidates this time around. Despite the fact that more Indian American bundlers have been giving to Hillary Clinton, Obama just edges out Clinton in money raised by ALL bundlers. Everyone knows why wealthy Indian American businessmen and women would give to the Clintons (they are established power-brokers with clout and a fondness for Indian food), but I am curious to learn who would be bundling for Obama (i.e., from what industries or professions). The top bundlers for Obama are an engineer from Colorado and a venture capitalist from NY. Looks like he also has a newspaper guy (publisher?) rooting for him at The Indian Reporter. In any case, the people on this list are important to remember since it is quite possible that those bundlers supporting the eventual winner might end up serving in that winner’s administration in some capacity. They are also important to remember because depending on who you are, they may come to you looking to bundle your money.
I am a little surprised that fewer than 1% (21/2493) of the bundlers are Indian-American. I would have guessed higher (not wildly higher, but higher) before seeing this.
Damn there are a lot of rich MF’n Indians out there.
Billary have milked this group for decades. When Bill spoke at the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin AAPI conference in the nineties, aunties were swooning. Its a mutual lovefest.
Come to think of it, I personally dont know any Indians over the age of 40 who support Obama.
Hi Monimoni, Meet me. Not only am I supporting Obama, I am fiercely arguing on his behalf on my blog and with Indian and other Asian women (yes, they too – Chinese, Taiwanese and Vietnamese) of my age. Haven’t had much success though. Many more among my middle aged white women friends are for Obama than are Asian ones.
Ruchira – that’s too bad (speaking as an Obama supporter myself). I would hope it’s not a race thing, but knowing many in my parent’s generation.. well, I wouldn’t be surprised at all.
That being said, http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/28/opinion/28cohen.html — interesting portraits of some of the young volunteers on the Obama campaign, including an Indian-American 🙂
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/28/opinion/28cohen.html – linked
It is funny that everyone thinks of Obama as an Af-Am. I find that very strange given that he has a white mother. I was for John Edwards but have since moved on to support Obama. I am under 40. To the Desis Obama needs emphasize his Harvard Law Degrees – more older Desis will come into his camp. Does anyone know if an overseas citizen can donate to a Presidential campaign – I d like to send some $$$ to Obama. Not the HillyBillies again!!!
melbourne desi: I know that Barack Obama is not African American in the usual sense of the term. But when you think of it he is literally that since his father was Kenyan (then studying in the United States) and his mother a white Kansan.
Not all under 40s are supporting Obama 🙂 I like Obama but he has never really explained away his Reagan comment. What exactly did he mean by the ‘excesses’ of the 60s and 70s (forced busing? Miranda? environmentalism? feminism? great society?) and what did he mean by Reagan’s culture of ‘entrepreneurship’? Also Obama’s plan has no mandates and his economic platform is to the right of plans by Edward and Hillary. contenders.
At this point, Obama’s running mostly on symbolism and a catering to the public’s emotion. His policy could be to slice rabbit’s ears and serve them to pigs and most wouldn’t care.
Melbourne Desi, totally off topic, but happy belated australia day.
10 Ã‚Â· Pagal_Aadmi_for_debauchery said
Wonder why the most prominent “liberal” senator is endorsing him, then. Accept it, there’s not much difference between these three in policy terms.
I call this symbolism. Ted Kennedy will feel good that he endorsed the minority candiadte and in today’s Democratic party he will become much more of a hero. Camelot is here again.
Bill Clinton tried this during the 92 elections and Obama has that aura ( the press bestowed it on him). Apart from vague generalities , Obama has not offered a concrete proposal on health care ( no mandates), social security (he is not ruling out anything) or the current housing crisis (10 billion dollar fund). He did not support the war but has not given any indication how he would proceed with pulling the troops out.
As an independent who leans Republican, I am glad the party that knows how to lose is going to nominate this guy or Hillary Clinton.McCain is going to beat any one of them. I am not a war supporter, but other than his stubborn support for the war McCain has all the qualities that I would want in a President.I also will get the additional pressure of seeing that big fat idiot Rush Limbaugh lose one.
8 Â· melbourne desi said
Heh. Maybe if he took the MCATs he’d totally make up for that D-Punjab thing.
Nara, I agree with you that the current Democratic slate leaves much to be desired. But if you were a Dem and not a Republican leaning independent, whom would you support? Hillary or Obama? That seems to be the question here, not who the perfect candidate is.
As for McCain winning hands down against Hillary or Obama, don’t be too sure. Hillary is probably more beatable than Obama. In the case of the latter, many anti-war independents will vote for him. And yes many, especially among the young, will cast a “symbolic” vote for a black candidate. When the choice comes down to six of one and half a dozen of the other (as is the case for most establishment candidates of both parties), symbols speak volumes to those who wish to change the way a nation sees itself.
10 Â· Pagal_Aadmi_for_debauchery said
so what are you complaining about PAfD? at worst he’ll be, at least policy-wise, like the clintons.
you see, those of us over at the vrwc hating billary not for their policies–after all (s)he gave us welfare reform, nafta, famously pronounced the end of big government, and wall-street friendly policies that resulted in a crash, recession, and accounting scandals–but no worry, small price to pay all that wealth creation and W cleaned up the mess and moved onto another growth stage marked by a little scandal and crash at the end–but because they were like nixon, tricky dicks….as the recent attempt ot disenfranchise union voters in nevada and steal the nomination by seating florida and michigan delegates demonstrates.
nixon was culturally right-wing but governed left (affirmative action, economic controls, detente) while playing hardball politics. billary is his mirror image. the left is finally grasping this fact.
plus the inside dope is that we genuinely fear obama. he can win. billary will bring out our base and she’s already compromised her own ability to bring out her own, like even teddy saw thru billary comparing obama to jesse. don’t worry about his race; american racism is overestimated, as we are finding out. (remember when romney couldn’t win b/c he’s of some wacky religion and those evangelicals control the republicans?) plus its complicated. a guy might vote for obama but still not let his daughter date a black man.
anyway, my advice is to go for obama, and i’m not being Machiavellian. but if i were, i wouldn’t say so.
Hillary has a lot of backers in the desi community. She skipped a Sikh fundraiser in Sacto when the Norman Hsu story broke. Of course all politicians need the bundlers and color is no bar, all they look for is the green. Funny how easy it is to buy access, all it takes is about 4-5k to push an agenda with your Congressman. I wonder how many desis have been in the Lincoln bedroom. Slightly off topic but am leaning towards Hillary. Obama’s speeches are all about hope and he skips the details. In every speech on Cspan that I have seen, Hillary is talking numbers, she is like the nerd who does your homework for you! I have my Calif mail in ballot and will wait till the last week to make my choice. Obama gives hope but if Katrina taught us one lesson it is that hope is not a plan. Ruchira you must be kidding when you say the Dem candidates are lacking.
I dont want transcendent politics. I want fire in the belly. Since JKF (in a very close election) the Democrats have only been able to win the White House in the aftermath of JFK’s death, Nixon impeachment and with the Clintons. The Clintons have a proven record of beating the Republicans in ‘ordinary elections’. I think Billary will beat McCain in a 50-48 election. I dont see the point in rolling the dice with Obama. He can wait for 2016.
We’ll see. Harold Ford, who apparently ran the best organized campaign in the country for the Senate, saw the tide turn against him just a week before the election as soon as his Republican opponent started airing this tasteful ad, and he lost the election.
As for the Kennedys bonding together to support change over dynasty, I guess they must enjoy a healthy dose of irony.
No, Malibu, I am not. I think the three front running Dems are very similar in their approach to governing. I don’t see any of them going out on a slender limb to stand on principle. They are all cautious, establishment and indebted, Hillary way more than the others. But Obama and Edwards are at least more palatable, decent and even attractive as persons than the other two (yes, Billary makes two). They haven’t had time to hone their lying and other nefarious political skills for as long. As for the prospect of either Michelle Obama or Elizabeth Edwards as first spouses compared to Bill Clinton? The less said the better.
I would have preferred the well rested, fire in his belly, Clinton-free Albert Gore. But that’s not going to happen.
So, I am going with Obama for all the reasons that the media, the blogs and Manju above have listed. If Hillary is the nominee, I am going to cast a third party vote or not vote at all. If the country is going to get screwed over because of the incompetence of the Republicans or due to the sleaze of the Clintons, I would rather that the crime is recorded on the GOP side of the ledger. I don’t want to see the Democratic Party to be indelibly stamped by the shadow of the Clintons for years to come and scuttle the chances of capable and deserving Dem candidates from winning elections in the future.
I thought the democrats were thrilled with their choices this time:o). I would probably support Hillary. I have no confidence that the junior senator from Illinois is upto the task. JFK (camelot and all that other stuff) was never a big thing with me. I have not heard a single concrete idea from Obama. If he had a long record(like Reagan) I could refer to it and make up my mind. I need more than vague banalities (bring together, post racial, hope & change) to convince me. Both his ideology and competence (didn’t the current occupant talk about character and bringing us all together) are not yet tested. Can somone who supports him actually point out a single bill that he managed to champion and push through in the Senate.
While Hillary’s ideology,expedience and no-limit ambition scare me, I think she, like Bill, likes to be liked. Hopefully, that will keep her from attempting radical things. I am sure she is more competent than the current occupant. She is more disciplined than her husband. She in her six years in the senate has shown that she can work across party lines. Given all this I would vote for her.
For some weird reason Hillary always reminds me of Reese Witherspoon in Election.
Here is the reason why.
The Idiot’s gyide to Elections 2008.
Well, maybe if she could turn out the nerd kid vote. 😉
Can you hear the laughter. This president cleaning up anything is a joke. He is an abysmal failure in evry aspect and this is coming from me who will vote for a republican ven after this presidency
Y’all are conflating rhetorical style with a lack of substance, which is fair given media coverage, but inaccurate in terms of actual policy proposals and reality. Obama did give lengthy policy speeches that the media never bothered covering — it’s just that his rhetorical flair gets the crowds excited and, well.., works on the average person pretty damn well. Hell, even the reporters get excited (read Howard Kurtz in today’s WaPo).
He wasn’t going to distinguish himself against Billary with professorial lecturing (remember, he taught constitutional law at U Chicago for a while), hence the idealism thing — so far it’s worked pretty damn well. That all being said, please don’t fall for the lazy attitude, and Clinton talking point, that the campaign lacks substance. His health care plan may not carry an explicit mandate (and there is a specific reason for this), but it is concrete. It’s designed by Dave Cutler, a brilliant Harvard econ. prof who specializes in health care policy. Plus, he gets big props from me for having Samantha Power as a foreign policy advisor. The details are there, on the website and in the stump speeches, not necessarily the victory speeches.
The Harvard Law angle is perhaps a good one with desis 😉 He did graduate magna from HLS, which means he was in the top 5-10% academically (almost no one gets summa).
I’m still puzzled as to how Hillary’s experience is much superior to his. I guess it comes down to her being first lady, since he has an edge on legislative experience. But, how much experience did she really gain? After the healthcare debacle she backed off from doing any major thing policy-wise, so one wonders how the experience canard gets as much traction as it does. Prior to that, well they were both lawyers.
oooh, intellectual home of the neocons, and more importantly, the constitution in exilers. One can dream…
according to robert novak, who is never wrong (as the plame non-scandel proved, and he was the first to predict billary’s attack strategy) there is a deal between edwards and obama that will throw edwards delegates to obama (i think, the mechanism is unclear) in return for the attorney general spot.
on the other hand, pat buchanan, who knows a thing about dirty trick, says billary really won in SC and a racially polarized party will give the nom to hillary on super tues. personally i think obama effectively counterpunched and the clintons overplayed their hand (that jessie slip by bill was the biggest blunder) and the race will be close making the edwards delegates important.
really interesting race, not idea wise, but for the pure political maneuvering.
HMF : thank you. I felt very strange when I heard both Advance Australia Fair and Jana Gana Mana being played for the Adelaide Test.
Tirumalai – Yup – maybe we should call him an Am-Af. Mothers take priority 😉 His mother must have been a rather liberal ( no quotes) lady to bear a child from a foreign man. I wonder if she faced a tough time from her family.
Some people here seem to imply that the support for Obama is an “emotional” one based purely on his charisma and now are pointing to the hoopla about the Kennedy endorsement and Camelot etc. But the fact is that a large cadre of senior, experienced Democratic leaders have quietly endorsed Obama or have otherwise come out with their disapproval of the Clintons. The list below:
Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont Senator Ted Kennedy of Massachussets (supposed to have called Bill Clinton on the phone to make his displeasure known) Senator John Kerry of Massachussets Former Senator Bill Bradley of New Jersey Senator Tim Johnson of S. Dakota
Senator Kent Conrad of N. Dakota
Senator Ben Nelson of Nebraska Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri Former Senator and Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle of S. Dakota (now a national campaign chairperson of the Obama campaign) Governor Janet Napolitano of Arizona
Robert Reich, Labor Secretary in the Clinton administration Congressman Jim Clyburn of South Carolina(Only Rep Clyburn is African American)
Are all these seasoned pols dazzled by Obama’s charm? Or are they on a suicide mission for their party? Does this say anything about Obama? Or to put it another way, does it say anything about the Clintons?
Obama has nothing to fear with desis not voting for him. If he emphasizes he is the child of immigrants he will get the lot of votes of naturalized citizens (Desi / African / Hispanic).
I have a more fundamental question – will Obama get the disinterested out on election day. It is rather sad that so many dont bother to vote.
So I totally voted for Obama, and I’m with jackal — I like his policy positions because they are well thought out and reasonable (and largely accessible online, so consider checking it out). To be honest, I don’t need a candidate to stump about their wonky policy initiative; I would like them to say something that makes me want to get on the phone, call my friends, and get them all to vote for him/her. The WashPost actually had a really nice analysis on this (the Poetry vs. Prose candidates). Also, re: young people voting “symbolically” because Obama is black — I think that’s too reductionist and narrow-minded. Most young voters I meet (who are pro-Obama) are excited to be engaged and taken seriously by someone who speaks to them in a way that makes them hopeful about the next 8 years, not depressed and neurotic.
I do like the Democratic primaries this year though — since when has my (California) vote counted, and since when do you get to see the process so clearly? I feel like it’s a great public education in the voting process (and its craggy dirty undersides) that I normally have no clue about.
Also, I’m pretty sure Ted Kennedy has NOTHING to gain from endorsing Obama. Perhaps those who evaluate the big O only in the context of race are projecting their own neuroses onto the process?
She also has a lot of PO’d Sikhs in California who are no longer voting for her because, when it is politically expedient, Hillary will buck a desi like nobody’s business. She bailed on a really expensive fundraiser in the Sikh community in Bakersfield that left the organizers out for the money with no possibility for a reschedule.
Jackal and Camille, thank you for setting the record straight about Obama’s policies. One might look at his policies and prefer those of the other candidates, but the meme that he lacks substance or defined policies is absurd, and really just plays into one of those conventional wisdom narratives that people who haven’t done enough homework fall into. His website has links to white papers on all major policy areas, and he has teams of very accomplished people working on various policy teams. In my area of expertise, technology policy, the list of people on his policy team includes almost every major academic/policymaker out there.
Now a more fair criticism would be that he doesn’t talk about policy minutiae as much as, say, Hillary does, but that’s because he’s selling more than policy wonkishness. The rationale of his campaign is more than just policy details, it is about changing the way we approach politics and getting people more involved in our democracy. As he has said when asked about this, the reason we have not solved some of the major problems facing our society isn’t because we lack ideas on how to solve the problems — there are plenty of smart left-leaning policy types who think about these problems every day — it is because we’ve lacked the political will to address the issues. And that’s where Obama is trying to build a working majority that can actually address these problems rather than stay mired in partisan bickering. Of course he recognizes that there will always be disagreements, but all you have to do is pick off a few moderates to get legislation passed, and picking off moderates is a lot easier when you’re less polarizing and don’t start every debate by demonizing the other side. (For more on this issue of how best to achieve “change,” see this excellent column from the American Prospect, including the comments if you’re interested enough.)
Moreover, I’ve never really understood the fascination that people seem to have with analyzing the various policies set forth by the campaigns and seeking to draw contrasts where few exist. The reality is that for most issues, Congress decides the specifics of the legislation, so the final law will bear little resemblance to what is in the policy paper put out by the candidate. And yet, people who examine these things tend to spend lots of time and energy arguing over bullet point 5 on page 4 of the power point presentation, which one candidate has in their plan and the other doesn’t, or that one candidate proposes to spend x dollars on, say wind energy while the other candidate proposes spending 5x dollars. All of that is largely insignificant. Now policy positions do matter inasmuch as they provide evidence of a candidate’s priorities, and on that score, all the major Dems are pretty much aligned — they all want to address climate change, help our education system, make health care more affordable, etc. (If one were to contrast the Dem positions with the leading Republicans, for example, there are huge differences, and at that point policy positions definitely matter because the differences between the policy positions are far more fundamental.) There are some issues on which there are differences — Obama (and Edwards, I suppose) is more committed to reducing the role of special interests as well as other good governance issues, for example. (And I should note that one area in which policy positions matter quite a bit is foreign policy, since that is far more within the purview of the executive branch than domestic policy issues.)
Finally, getting back to the topic of this post, I take issue at some level with Abhi’s rationale for examining who the bundlers are — the rationale that people are always looking for something in return such as a job in the administration. Now I’m not naive enough to think that some fundraisers have such motives, and certainly one of the benefits of being a big fundraiser is increased access, so that people in power listen to you even if they don’t necessarily do what you ask. But I think the problem with looking at fundraising in this way is that it feeds the cynicism that afflicts our politics, the idea that everyone acts only if they are going to get something in return. Some people get involved simply because they believe that one candidate is better than the others, and that the country would be better served with their candidate in office. And part of what Obama says he is trying to change is the transactional approach to politics, where people will scratch your back only if you scratch theirs rather than work toward the greater good. Now changing this approach isn’t easy, and certainly Obama himself isn’t naive enough to think that there isn’t going to be some give-and-take, but even just changing the conversation to make it less transactional and less cynical is a start.
I’ll leave you with a relevant quote from Ryan Lizza’s excellent profile of Obama in GQ a few months back:
I attended an HRC fundraiser at Mahinder Tak’s house last summer. It was quite an event. I was really hoping to see a few Mutineers there, too. I did see my own CEO (who expressed surprise that I wasn’t at client-site and billable) (still employed, so whatever).
I find it far more interesting to see how fractious Dems have become over “their” candidates of choice. I’ve heard various purported Dems state baldly that “I’ll vote for McCain before I vote for Hillary,” which I think is beyond ridiculous.
It’s that sort of thinking that’s given the White House free reign for the last 7 years. The Republicans march in lockstep in the Senate; their votes are always 45-0, 43-1, etc for or against a measure. Then the Dems go 22-26, and ta-da! We hand it right over because we can’t figure out what’s more important: opposition to idiocy, or sheer obstinacy.
I’ll concede that in many ways the Democratic party is (seemingly?) more diverse, and therefore must be more fractious than the Republican party. But there are times when it pays off to find common ground, rather than dissenting every chance you get.