What has 1,166 legs and flies first-class?
Mon Aug 11 17:57:46 2003

Who Are Bush’s Rangers and Pioneers?

What has 1,166 legs and flies first-class?

It’s the well-heeled, well-connected group of Bush fundraisers known as the Rangers and Pioneers. They are Texans and New Yorkers. They are billionaires and ambassadors. They are elected officials and pro sports executives.

Learn more about the prodigious fundraisers who have made it into the president’s inner circle.

Public Citizen has launched a new Web-based effort to rescue and strengthen the presidential public financing system. This country was founded on the notion that democracy should be of, for and by the people. The value of that notion hasn't lessened. And neither should our resolve to achieve it.

Close connections

Bush’s elite fundraisers are at the center of a controversial $2.8 billion proposed merger of the nation’s two major Hispanic media companies, Univision Communications and Hispanic Broadcasting Corp., the Washington Post reports. The deal "would give one firm as much as 80 percent of the Hispanic television and radio audience in many of the nation’s large markets."

Univision chief Jerry Perenchio has hit Pioneer status for corralling at least $100,000 in contributions to Bush. Employees of the California billionaire’s investment company, Chartwell Partners, have contributed $51,230 to Bush so far. And executives and spouses from three other companies involved in the proposed merger have given $18,000 more, the Post says.

Among the other contributors is Thomas O. Hicks, a 2000 Pioneer whose investment company holds 40.2 million shares of Clear Channel Communications. Clear Channel owns 26 percent of Hispanic Broadcasting. Hicks made Bush wealthy by purchasing the Texas Rangers from his investment group in 1998.

Warren W. Tichenor, who owns 12.8 percent of Hispanic Broadcasting, is also close to Bush. He was a "top 10" donor to Bush’s 1998 gubernatorial campaign. In 2000, the Bush campaign reimbursed Tichenor’s company $144,207 for the use of its corporate jet.

Posted 08-11-2003 12:39 PM EDT

Who’s got the tab?

"Bigdoms of local business are soliciting four-figure contributions for President Bush’s upcoming fund-raiser, but ordinary taxpayers shouldn’t feel left out," writes Seattle Post-Intelligencer columnist Joel Connelly. "They will help pay for the President’s trip."

Connelly references a note from Microsoft’s PAC promoting a "unique opportunity" to show support for Bush (for a contribution of $2,000) on Aug. 22 in Bellevue, Wash.

But Connelly observes that Bush will also talk about preserving salmon while in the Seattle area and discuss "forest issues" during a stopover in Portland, where another fundraiser is planned on Aug. 21.

Those "public events" will be costly. They will allow Bush to bill half the cost of hotel rooms and other expenses from the fundraising trip to taxpayers, Connelly reports. And Air Force One always flies on the public’s dime – at $57,000 an hour.

Posted 08-11-2003 12:41 PM EDT

Do as I say ...

Merrill Lynch spokeswoman Selena Morris says her boss didn’t become a Ranger to seek out special favors – such as a new law under consideration in the House that would keep state attorneys general like New York’s Eliot Spitzer from investigating the big brokerage houses.

She told the Houston Chronicle that Merrill CEO Stanley O’Neal became a bundler "because our chairman supports the Bush administration."

O’Neal, who didn’t contribute a penny to Bush in 2000, has seen fit to round up at least $200,000 for the 2004 campaign. In fact, employees of Merrill Lynch have donated more to Bush than any other company.

But guess who’s missing from the list of contributors? Evidently, Stan O’Neal himself.

The Merrill chairman has yet to cut a check to Bush 2004, according to FEC records.

Posted 08-11-2003 12:57 PM EDT


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