Obama: Romney’s Big Donors Should Give Their Millions to Scholarships Instead

August 23, 2012 - 5:10 AM

Obama 2012

President Barack Obama pauses as he speaks during a campaign event at Truckee Meadows Community College, Tuesday, Aug. 21, 2012, in Reno, Nev. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

(CNSNews.com) – President Barack Obama scolded the Romney campaign’s biggest donors this week, saying they should donate their millions to fund college scholarships instead of contributing to Republican Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign:

“Now, over the next two and a half months, the other side will spend more money than we have ever seen – ever.  I mean, they got folks writing $10 million checks, $20 million checks,” Obama said Tuesday at a campaign stop at Capital University in Columbus, Ohio. “They should be contributing that to a scholarship fund to send kids to college. But instead, they are going to spend more money than we’ve ever seen on ads, and the ads all say the same thing, which is, the economy is not where it needs to be and it's all Obama's fault.”

But with regards to big donors, both Obama and Romney have their share. While Obama is correct that wealthy contributors have donated heavily to both Romney’s campaign and his super PAC, the same is true of the president’s campaign and the Democratic super PAC.

Forbes magazine compiled a list of major contributors toward the election of both candidates.

DreamWorks CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg gave $2 million to the Obama-supporting super PAC Priorities USA, according to Forbes. Comedian Bill Maher gave $1 million to the super PAC. Comedian Chelsea Handler gave $100,000 to the super PAC. Director Steven Spielberg also donated $100,000 to Priorities USA. TV producer J.J. Abrams donated $50,000. Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein has raised more than $500,000 toward Obama’s reelection. Actress Eva Longoria has raised more than $100,000 for Obama’s reelection. Director Spike Lee has raised more than $200,000.

Forbes magazine reported in May that 30 billionaires donated to the Romney-supporting super PAC called Restore Our Future. The donors make up 7.5 percent of the Forbes 400 list of richest people. These include casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, who gave $10 million to the Restore Our Future; oil and gas pioneer Harold Hamm, whoe gave $985,000; and clothing store chain owner Leslie Wexner, who gave $250,000, according to Forbes.

Obama’s admonition that wealthy Americans should spend their millions on scholarships instead of political campaigns comes amid press reports that Obama trails Romney in fund-raising.

According to the Associated Press, Romney is out-raising President Obama by "impressive margins," and is even attracting thousands of donors from traditionally Democratic areas of the United States.

Donors from Manhattan to San Francisco’s liberal Castro neighborhood helped Romney and the GOP out-raise Obama by more than $25 million in July, beating him and the Democratic Party in contributions for a third consecutive month, an AP analysis showed.

The AP said Romney collected at least $630,000 by mid-summer from New York City, the home to major Romney fundraiser and New York Jets owner Woody Johnson. More than $100,000 of that came from investment bankers, who have cooled to Obama since he supported tougher regulations for Wall Street.

On the West Coast, Romney has collected at least $350,000 since June in the San Francisco Bay Area, with average contributions of $400 apiece. The Bay Area is home to Dick Boyce, a former partner of Romney's at Bain Capital and a GOP super PAC donor who is active in fundraising for Romney.

Obama and his advisers have publicly acknowledged that the president will be outspent by November. Romney and the GOP reported a combined $101 million in fundraising last month, while Obama and the Democrats together said they raised $75 million.

Tax returns from the major party candidates show that Romney – a very wealthy American -- has donated far more to charity than Obama in dollar amounts, although Obama has donated a larger percentage of his adjusted gross income than his GOP rival.

Romney, a former Massachusetts governor, recently released his tax returns for both 2010 and 2011.

In 2010, Romney contributed $2.98 million to charity, or 13.8 percent of his $21.6 million in income that year. In 2011, he contributed $4 million to charity. This amounts to 19.2 percent of his $20.9 million in income

In 2010, Obama gave $245,075 to charity, or 13.6 percent of his income of $1,728,096 that year. That went down to $172,130 in 2011, but a higher percentage, 21.7 percent of his income of $789,674. The bulk of income from both years came from book sales, according to The Washington Post.

By comparison, the two vice presidential candidates have given significantly less to charity.

In 2010, Vice President Joe Biden contributed $5,350 to charity, or about 1.4 percent of his income of $379,178. In 2011, he contributed $5,540, or about 1.5 percent of his income of $379,035.

In 2010, Republican vice presidential candidate Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin gave $2,600 to charity, or 1.2 percent of his $215,417 income. In 2011, Ryan’s charitable donations significantly increased to $12,991, or about 4 percent of his taxable income of $253,674.