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The $50 million Dems (continued)

4) Linda Pritzker

Investor, Houston, Texas

$4,005,000 total election-cycle contributions

• $4,000,000 to 527s

$4,000,000 Joint Victory Campaign

• $5000 in hard money

This reclusive 50-year-old daughter of Robert Pritzker is heir to a good portion of the Hyatt hotel fortune, estimated at $15 billion total. She has given $900,000 to the Joint Victory Campaign (JVC), but the Washington Post has reported that she is also the person behind the shadowy Sustainable World Corporation, which has given an additional $3.1 million to JVC since appearing out of nowhere last December.

Pritzker has made no public comments about her contributions, which appear to be her first foray into direct political activism.

5) Andrew S. Rappaport

Partner, August Capital, Redwood City, California

$3,054,000 total election-cycle contributions

• $3,000,000 to 527s

$1,450,000 New Democrat Network

$1,300,000 Music for America

$200,000 Democrats 2000

$50,000 America Votes

• $54,000 in hard money

Venture capitalist, director of tech companies such as Silicon Image, former Boston-based management consultant, and founder of the Massachusetts Center for Technology Growth, Rappaport (no relation to Jim Rappaport, who ran for lieutenant governor in 2002) jumped aboard the Howard Dean bandwagon and now funds 527s that encourage left-leaning voter participation, particularly among the young. At 46, and with three teenage daughters, Rappaport is taking a "venture philanthropy" approach to his political giving.

"I’ve been doing start-up companies for 20 years," Rappaport says. He and his wife, Deborah, along with former Nirvana bassist Kris Novoselic, make up the Music for America board of directors. That 527 organization is funding a variety of efforts aimed at engaging young voters, something he says the Democratic Party has failed to do. "We asked party people in 2000 and 2002, why they weren’t doing outreach to young people," Rappaport says. "They said, ‘Old people vote.’ We said yes, but they also die."

6) Lewis Cullman

CEO, Cullman Ventures Inc., New York City

$1,764,500 total election-cycle contributions

• $1,650,000 to 527s

$1,000,000 Joint Victory Campaign

$500,000 Americans Coming Together

$100,000 MoveOn

$50,000 Americans for Jobs

• $114,500 in hard money

Cullman’s autobiography, which came out this April, is titled Can’t Take It with You: The Art of Making and Giving Money, which sums up what you need to know about him. Cullman has made a fortune through leveraged buy-outs (he owns the At-A-Glance company that makes those ubiquitous day planners), and with his wife, Dorothy, has given away millions through philanthropy — the couple was once cited as the third-biggest giver in the country by Slate. Last July, Cullman co-sponsored a newspaper ad with George Soros decrying the Iraq war, and he has continued to spend money to oppose Bush.

7) Agnes Varis

President, AgVar Chemicals, New York City

• $1,267,750 total election-cycle contributions

$1,155,000 to 527s

$1,255,000 Joint Victory Campaign

• $112,750 in hard money

"Agnes is just appalled by the Bush agenda," says Ickes. Varis, a Lowell native, is a long-time Democratic Party contributor and philanthropist. (The only Republican she has funded is John McCain.) Her MAKK Foundation supports animal shelters, and she has for years backed the Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine. In 2000, she endowed a chair in science and society at Tufts with a $2 million gift.

8) John A. Harris IV

Retired, Berwyn, Pennsylvania

$1,243,000 total election-cycle contributions

• $1,224,000 to 527s

$978,000 League of Conservation Voters

$160,000 State Conservation Voters

$28,000 Sierra Club

$28,000 Defense of Wildlife

$20,000 Progressive Majority

$10,000 MoveOn

• $19,000 in hard money

Harris, a retired investment banker and an heir to the Standard Oil fortune, is a long-time contributor to environmental organizations, but not previously much of a player in partisan politics — and when he has gotten involved, it has been as a Republican. "He’s a very private person," says Callahan, of the League of Conservation Voters. "He does politics because he wants environmental results."

9) Alida R. Messinger

Trustee, Rockefeller Family Fund, New York, New York

$1,177,000 total election-cycle contributions

• $1,133,000 to 527s

$500,000 Americans Coming Together

$500,000 League of Conservation Voters

$133,000 State Conservation Voters

• $44,000 in hard money

The "R" stands for Rockefeller. A major donor to conservation and environmental groups, financial backer of the Center for Public Integrity, Messinger also made big, big contributions to Democratic Party committees until those donations were capped. Hence the half-mil to ACT. Callahan calls her a "committed environmentalist, focused on philanthropy and raising her family."

10) Susie Tompkins Buell

Founder, Susie Tompkins Buell Foundation, San Francisco

$1,068,225 election-cycle contributions

• $1,010,000 to 527s

$1,000,000 Joint Victory Campaign

$10,000 EMILY’s List

• $58,225 in hard money

Buell founded the Esprit de Corps clothing company, which she left in 1996. Or, she "built, wrecked, and sued" the company, according to the San Francisco Weekly. Through her foundation, she funds projects to empower women and girls; she also gives to the arts and other philanthropies. She is a stalwart Democratic Party funder and certified Friend of Bill Clinton.

11) Marcia L. Carsey

Co-owner, Carsey-Warner Productions, Los Angeles

$1,065,500 total election-cycle contributions

• $1,000,000 to 527s

$1,000,000 Joint Victory Campaign

• $65,500 in hard money

After you create The Cosby Show, you’re pretty well set for money. The 59-year-old South Weymouth native is a solid Democrat who agreed to pony up a cool million to the Joint Victory Campaign. She is also a founding member of Women’s Enterprise Development Corporation, Women Incorporated, and the Center for Cultural Innovation.

12) Anne Getty Earhart

Investor, Corona del Mar, California

$1,007,000 total election-cycle contributions

• $1,000,000 to 527s

$1,000,000 Joint Victory Campaign

• $7000 in hard money

Granddaughter of J. Paul Getty, she inherited $400 million when Texaco bought Getty Oil, in 1986. Very low-profile, she has contributed to environmental causes in the past, and occasionally to campaigns, including Barbara Boxer’s. This appears to be her first major political contribution.

David S. Bernstein can be reached at dbernstein[a]phx.com. Research assistance was provided by Phoenix intern Jocelyn Brick-Turin.

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Issue Date: July 23 - 29, 2004
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