Obama Investment in Chicago Donor Pays Off

Fred Eychaner donated $14 million in 2012 cycle


President Barack Obama’s investment in Chicago-based donor Fred Eychaner yielded major funding for his re-election campaign, according to a new Bloomberg profile.

Though a supporter of then-Sen. Hillary Clinton during the Democratic primary in 2008, Eychaner was invited to the White House seven times over the past four years, and the known lover of the arts, particularly ballet, was named a trustee for the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Chicago. It paid off for Obama:

The reclusive Chicago printer, radio station owner and investor became the top individual Democratic campaign donor — including $4.5 million given to a pro-Obama super political action committee. There’s also potential for future dividends if he continues to write large checks to Democratic super-PACs in the 2014 midterm elections and beyond. […]

He gave more money in 2012 than the Service Employees International Union or Goldman Sachs employees, yet few outside Democratic fundraising circles have ever heard the multimillionaire’s name.

The $14 million Eychaner contributed was enough to rank him the top 10 among individuals and organizations from both political parties, according to the Washington-based Center for Responsive Politics. Among individuals, he was fifth, behind a quartet of Republican donors: casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, billionaire Harold Simmons, Texas builder Bob Perry and TD Ameritrade founder Joe Ricketts.

While Eychaner has largely kept out of the public eye, his links with the Democratic Party have grown in prominence over the years.

He’s routinely ranked among such Democratic donors as billionaire investor George Soros and billionaire movie producer Steve Bing. When Democrats were searching for money to rebuild after losing the White House in 2000, former party chairman Terry McAuliffe traveled to Chicago to meet personally with Eychaner, who responded with checks totaling $4 million.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is among those who have long courted Eychaner. Their donor-fundraiser relationship dates back to at least 2005, when Emanuel was working to raise money as the head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

Eychaner was the single largest donor to Priorities USA, donating $3.5 million to the Obama-affiliated Super PAC best known for a campaign ad suggesting Mitt Romney may have been responsible for a woman’s death from cancer.