President Bush appointed many seasoned veterans Tuesday to his Homeland Security Advisory Council. But alongside members like former FBI Director William Sessions and former Rep. Lee Hamilton, D-Ind., are a number of business leaders who, along with their companies, have paid big money to Republicans.
According to the White House, the council, scheduled for a first meeting Wednesday, will "provide the president with advice on homeland security matters from experts representing state and local government, the private sector, public policy experts and the non-profit sector." The group will help guide the creation of a White House wish list in the fight to create a new Department of Homeland Security.
Charles Lewis, founder of the Center for Public Integrity, says a preliminary look at the board members reveals a number of qualified members, but also raises concerns about potential conflicts of interest.
"Many large corporations certainly are sure to have business before the new department," Lewis says. "The thing is so large and all-encompassing, it's hard to imagine that it's not a potential issue. It's a little unusual to have folks with all kinds of private interests involved in setting up government agencies. Don't they have White House staff to do that?"
Using figures from the Center for Responsive Politics, Salon has examined the patterns of political giving of the members of the council. A list of some the 15 appointed members follows:
Joseph Grano, chairman and CEO of UBS Paine Webber
Grano, who will serve as chairman of the council, has given more than $40,000 to political candidates over the last 10 years, mostly to Republicans, though he has given money to Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., former Sen. Bob Kerry, D-Neb., and $1,000 to the 2000 presidential campaign of Democrat Bill Bradley.
Grano's company, Paine Webber, gave 2-1 for Republicans during the 2000 election cycle. More than $54,000 of its $86,000 went to GOP candidates. The company also chipped in more than $757,000 in soft money -- $524,000 of which went to Republicans.
Kathleen M. Bader, business group president and vice president, Dow Chemical
Bader has given more than $5,000 in political money over the last six years, including $1,000 each to now Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham and Bush. Dow Chemical gave more than $180,000 to candidates during the last election cycle, with more than $143,000 going to Republican candidates. In addition, Dow gave more than $250,000 in soft money, $218,000 of which went to the GOP.
Ruth David, president and chief executive officer of ANSER, Inc.
David has given $1,750 to political candidates since 1990 -- all of which has gone to Democrats. Among the candidates who have received money from David are Los Angeles liberals, including Rep. Maxine Waters and former Rep. Mel Levine.
Sidney Taurel, chairman, president and CEO of Eli Lilly and Co.
Taurel and his wife Kathryn have given more than $82,000 over the last 10 years, with most going to Republicans. Eli Lilly gave nearly $1.7 million in contributions last cycle, with 80 percent of that money going to the GOP. Taurel is also a member of the Pharmaceuticals Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) board. The pharmaceutical industry gave millions in soft money, with most of that, too, going to Republicans.
James Schlesinger, former secretary of defense under Presidents Nixon and Ford
Schlesinger is chairman of the board of trustees of the MITRE Corp. and a senior advisor for Lehman Brothers. Lehman split the $178,500 in hard money the company gave during the last election cycle -- 48 percent went to Democrats, 52 percent to Republicans. But Lehman also gave $622,650 in soft money to the GOP -- and a mere $16,000 in soft money to Democrats.
David Arthur Bell, vice chairman of the Interpublic Group of Companies
Bell has given $12,000 over the last four years -- $1,000 to New York Senate candidate Rick Lazio, and the other $11,000 to the Professionals in Advertising PAC. During the 2000 election cycle, that PAC donated more than $159,000 to House and Senate candidates -- 70 percent of which went to Republican candidates.
Executives of Interpublic, a collection of large marketing firms based in New York, gave more than $250,000 during the last election cycle. Most of those contributions were made by former CEO and chairman Philip Geier, who gave more than $200,000 to the Republican National Committee.