A few weeks ago our Dealscape colleague Matthew Wurtzel did a little digging into the political contributions of Wall Street executives and found that, generally speaking, Wall Street prefers Democrats. That got us wondering about the political leanings of some leading corporate executives. Using this nifty tool at HuffingtonPost.com, we looked at the campaign donations of a select group of chief executives: those making recent deal headlines and -- more importantly -- those we were just curious about.
We were determined to find a pattern, and the one that emerged based on our most unscientific test group was certainly not unexpected: Corporate executives tend to make political donations cautiously and often split them evenly between the political parties. The idea, of course, is to be in good standing with the elected majority.
So what did we find? Here are the highlights:
The August Buschs: You'd think that a father and son with the same name who've led the same company in their hometown for decades would lineup politically. Not so. Anheuser-Busch CEO August Busch IV in 2007 gave $2,300 to former Democratic presidential contender Hillary Clinton and $25,000 to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. His father, meanwhile, August Busch III, appears to be staunchly Republican, backing GOP presidential nominee John McCain with a $2,300 donation in the first quarter of 2008 and contributing a total of $60,000 over the past 18 months to the Republican National Committee and the party's National Senatorial Committee.
Electronic Arts' CEO John Riccitiello and Take Two Interactive Software chairman Straus Zelnick: These two executives may be battling it out over EA's unsolicited $2 billion offer for Take Two, but they can find common ground when it comes to presidential candidates. Riccitiello and Zelnick have both contributed to Barack Obama, donating $4,000 and $2,000 to the candidate, respectively.
Google CEO Eric Schmidt: The search of Schmidt's political contributions turned up the most surprising result, two contributions in the first quarter of 2008 to the presidential campaign of Republican Ron Paul -- for $524 and $476. (Ok, they add up to $1,000, but is there some significance to those individual amounts? Just wondering.) Maybe Schmidt's contributions aren't so surprising when you consider that after taking over as CEO, Schmidt attended the Burning Man festival with a group of 20-something Googlers.
These searches are a breeze to do. The challenge is finding a way to stop. It's a bit addictive. Oh, and in case you're wondering which presidential candidate's name showed up most often. It was Rudy Giuliani. The former New York mayor picked up contributions from among others Countrywide CEO Angelo Mozilo, former Bear Stearns CEO Alan Schwartz and activist investor Carl Icahn.