Hillary Clinton Bundlers Bankroll Ted Strickland’s Campaign

Wealthy fundraisers from D.C., New York send money to Ohio Senate candidate

Ted Strickland
Ted Strickland / AP
November 19, 2015

Twenty-eight of Hillary Clinton’s top bundlers have donated to Ohio Democratic Senate candidate Ted Strickland, with only one of the donations coming from Ohio.

Since Strickland, a longtime Clinton ally, launched his Senate campaign in February, he has received nearly $60,000 in contributions from individuals listed on Hillary Clinton’s "Hillblazers" list, according to a Washington Free Beacon analysis of Federal Election Commission records.

Clinton’s "Hillblazers" are credited with raising $100,000 or more in primary election contributions for the former secretary of state as she pursues the Democratic nomination for president in 2016.

The majority of the 28 Clinton bundlers funneling money to Strickland have contributed at least $1,000 to his campaign. Eleven have donated the maximum $2,700 to his primary ambitions, and five have contributed $2,700 each to his primary and general election campaigns. If he loses the primary race to Democratic opponent P.G. Sittenfeld, a 31-year-old Cincinnati city councilman, Strickland will be forced to return the general election funds.

The donations from Clinton fundraisers backing Strickland come primarily from the Washington, D.C., metro area. The Free Beacon previously reported that Strickland has had success fundraising in the nation’s capital, netting nearly $170,000 from individuals based there. Several also come from New York City, Chicago, Dallas, and other major cities across the country. Only one donation, from a top Democratic activist and fundraiser, came from Ohio, the state Strickland is running to represent.

Strickland, a former governor of Ohio, has previously touted days-long fundraising trips to New York, Washington, and other cities.

If successful in the Democratic primary, Strickland will face incumbent Republican Sen. Rob Portman in the general race. Strickland has cast Portman as a senator who caters to the interests of billionaires in Washington and has attempted to pose himself as someone who cares about Ohio voters, particularly those in the middle class.

"I think my ideas, my values, my experience is a better fit for Ohio than Rob Portman. I say that the Senate should not be a place where the millionaires go to take care of the billionaires, and I really think that’s been the history of Rob Portman in public life," Strickland told local Ohio outlet WDTN last week.

"I just think he’s looking out for those who are already well taken care of, and I want to work and advocate for the middle class."

Of the Clinton bundlers that have contributed to Strickland’s campaign, six are attorneys, five work for consulting firms, five work in investments, and three at lobbying firms. The group includes several prominent professionals, including D.C. lobbyists Heather and Tony Podesta and billionaire Wall Street executive and former Obama "auto czar" Steven Rattner.

Clinton has offered her support for Strickland as he pursues the Senate seat, telling supporters at a Cincinnati rally in August that they should "help Ted get elected to the United States Senate."

"I’m personally delighted to be here with my friend, and your governor, Ted Strickland," Clinton stated at her campaign event. "Nobody cares more deeply and profoundly about what happens to people. He did a great job as your governor, and he will be an important voice in the Senate."

President Bill Clinton has formally endorsed Strickland. An invitation for a Strickland fundraiser in Washington, D.C., last week advertised the former president as one of Strickland’s prominent backers.

Even with the contributions from Clinton bundlers, Strickland has raised only a fraction of the $20 million his advisers projected he would need by next November to beat Portman. Currently, Strickland has just over $1.5 million cash on hand after expenses following three-quarters of fundraising.

A representative for the Strickland campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

"Ted Strickland is the only candidate in the country endorsed by Bill and Hillary Clinton, and he continues to follow her lead on issues like the Iran deal and the Keystone pipeline. It's clear that Strickland puts what President Obama and the Clintons want over what is best for Ohio and our country," Ohio Republican Party Chairman Matt Borges told the Free Beacon in a statement.

Before Strickland can compete against Portman, he will have to defeat Sittenfeld for the Democratic nomination. While the Ohio Democratic Party has formally endorsed Strickland, several prominent Ohio Democrats have formed a Super PAC to support his opponent in the primary race.

"We’re proud that the overwhelming majority of our campaign money is coming from small donors. In the third quarter, nearly three-quarters of the over 500 contributions we received from 44 states were for $50 or less," Dale Butland, a spokesman for the Sittenfeld campaign, said in a statement.