While the U.S. electronics industry isn't a major donor to U.S. presidential campaigns, generally preferring to focus its financial clout on congressional races, something unusual is happening this election cycle. According to early federal estimates, GOP hopeful Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, a libertarian, is attracting the most individual campaign contributions from employees of major U.S. high-tech companies.
Based on available donor data, the Washington-based Center for Responsive Politics estimates that employees of Google Inc. and related political action committees are the top contributors to Paul's long-shot presidential bid. As of Sept. 30, Google employees had contributed $22,250 to Paul, and Microsoft Corp. employees were the No. 4 overall contributor to Paul's campaign, kicking in $12,863. Employees from Cisco Systems, Apple Inc. and Verizon have also contributed. (Paul, a vocal opponent of the war in Iraq, has also received more than $21,000 from Army personnel, about $14,000 from the Navy and nearly $11,000 from Air Force members.)
According to the most recent figures released by the Federal Election Commission, Paul has raised almost $8.3 million, nearly all of it from individual contributors. According to commission totals, Paul raised more than $214,000 in contributions through the end of the third quarter from computer and network technology companies.
Paul, who has trailed far behind front runners Sen. John McCain of Arizona and former Gov. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts, has waged a guerrilla campaign aided by a committed band of activists using grass-roots techniques such as posting banners on highway overpasses.
Other second-tier presidential hopefuls have also attracted contributions from tech workers. Hewlett-Packard Co. and Apple Inc. employees or company PACs have contributed to the campaign of Democrat Mike Gravel, former senator from Alaska. HP workers kicked in $2,000; Apple employers wrote checks totaling $1,000, the Center for Responsive Politics found.
Most of McCain's contributions have come from Wall Street, media companies and Las Vegas casinos. The senator has received individual contributions from Spanish-language cable operator Univision, communications company IDT Corp. and Cisco employees. n