Show Me The Money: Companies, Executives Donate Millions to Top Candidates

If you take the Democratic incumbents and Republican challengers in the races for governor and U.S. Senate in Missouri and match them with their primary benefactors, the races would be:

* Gov. Jay Nixon and the law firms and unions vs. Republican challenger David Spence and the manufacturers and developers.

* U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill and a corporate juggernaut vs. Todd Akin and the electronics, aerospace and assorted energy industries.

Missouri Business Alert determined the donation totals through Sept. 30 from companies and company executives using candidate disclosure reports filed by the Oct. 15 deadline with the Missouri Ethics Commission and three data sources — Follow the Money, Project Vote Smart and Open Secrets. According to Open Secrets, the source for the U.S. Senate candidates, corporations and organizations did not directly donate; rather the money came from the organizations’ PACs, their individual members or employees or owners, and those individuals’ immediate families. Organization totals include subsidiaries and affiliates.

The reports linking the donations to companies and organizations were available only through the end of September.

Laura Davison, Jiselle Macalaguin & Allison Prang | Missouri Business Alert

Nixon received $2.6 million, 22 percent of his total donations, from law firms, lawyers and lobbyists. At the top of that list was $200,000 linked to Carey & Danis, which generally works with individuals to sue corporations for abuse or neglect, and $100,000 from Michael Kethmark, a partner in a Kansas City law firm that works primarily with discrimination and personal injury cases.

AT&T and St. Louis-based Express Scripts each ponied up $100,000. But that’s far less than the contributions from labor unions, which accounted for 15 percent of Nixon’s donation total. They included United Auto Workers ($400,000) and the United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipe Fitting Industry ($100,000). He also received $1,525,000 from the Democratic Governor’s Association.

Laura Davison, Jiselle Macalaguin & Allison Prang | Missouri Business Alert

Spence, president and CEO of Alpha Packaging in St. Louis, donated $2 million to his campaign, nearly 40 percent of the total contributions to his campaign.

Ten of the next top 15 contributors were business executives from St. Louis or, in one case, Denver, who donated as individuals. The contributions included:

* $152,500 from Robert O’Brien of O’Brien Corp., a manufacturer that makes plastic piping;

* $150,000 from William Koman, president of Koman Group, a real estate company;

* $152,500 Steven L. Trulaske Sr., CEO of True Manufacturing;

* $100,000 from William F. Holekamp, president of Holekamp Capital, a venture capital company; and

* $50,000 each from Alpha Packaging executives — COO Dan Creston and Distributor Sales Manager Carol McLerran.

The biggest corporate contributor was Big Sky Properties, a lessor of non-residential buildings based in Connecticut that gave $50,000.

McCaskill’s biggest single contribution, $256,390, came from EMILY’s List, an organization that supports female candidates who are Democratic and pro-choice. The second-highest contributor, at $83,475, was listed as Simmons Cooper LLC, a St. Louis law firm known for representing people suffering from a type of cancer called mesothelioma, a type of cancer.

Laura Davison, Jiselle Macalaguin & Allison Prang | Missouri Business Alert

A variety of companies were among the top 15 contributors to McCaskill, including law firms, Hallmark Cards, the Boeing Co., Ameren Corp., Kansas City Southern, Monsanto and Comcast Corp.

Laura Davison, Jiselle Macalaguin & Allison Prang | Missouri Business Alert

Emerson Electric based in St. Louis gave the highest amount to Akin, $41,700.

Akin’s largest PAC donation was from Northrop Grumman, a defense firm, with $14,000.

Three military defense companies based in Virginia and one based in London backed Akin. General Dynamics, which tends to give Republicans more money, gave Akin $18,000, and $2,000 to McCaskill. While none of Northrop Grumman’s employees donated to Akin, employees at General Dynamics donated $8,000. However, Boeing Co., based out of Chicago but with operations in St. Louis, donated more than $50,500 to McCaskill and $15,900 to Akin.

Other findings by MBA include:

* Only Missouri Professionals Mutual donated evenly to both Nixon and Spence. But several St. Louis-based corporations gave to both McCaskill and Akin, including Crawford Group (car rentals),Washington University, Express Scripts and Anheuser Busch InBev.

* Companies tended to donate the bulk of their contributions to candidates from one party in Missouri. For example, AT&T, a telecommunications company, donated $100,000 to Nixon’s campaign and $16,000 to Democratic Attorney General Chris Koster’s campaign.

Laura Davison | Missouri Business Alert

* Gambling and casinos were the highest contributing sector in Missouri in 2008, while lobbyists and lawyers were the third-highest category. In the 2012 races, lawyers and lobbyists took the top spot and gambling and casinos were not in the top 15 industries.

* While the bulk of AT&T’s money, 53.3 percent, was donated to Democrats, Republicans received many more contributions, 226 compared to 66 for Democrats.

* Express Scripts, which processes pharmaceutical claims, contributed twice as much to Republican candidates as it did Democrats, but there was no significant difference in contribution totals to either party.

Businesses and associations donated about 58 percent of Missouri’s election campaign money through mid-October and made up 21 percent of the total contributors. More than 40,000 individuals made contributions.

Contributions to the Missouri statewide elections has totaled more than $65 million, with more than $57 million of that directed at specific candidates. Although that is about $40 million dollars less than during the last election in 2008, when there were similar races held, this year identifies more with the 2000 elections.

Contributors to this story:

Infographics: Natalie Cheng, Laura Davison, Jiselle Macalaguin, Allison Prang, Katarina Sostaric

Data collection: Katie Artemas, Dalton Barker, Malory Ensor, Gwen Girsdansky, Sydney Miller, Maoling Xiong

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