Strickland Capitalizes on Big-Money Donors in New York, Washington

Ohio Senate candidate has based fundraising appeals on his opposition to ‘millionaires and billionaires’

Ted Strickland, Barack Obama / AP
Ted Strickland, Barack Obama / AP
February 23, 2016

Ted Strickland, a Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate in Ohio, raked in over $174,000 from individuals living in the New York City and Washington, D.C., areas in the final three months of last year.

The contributions from people living in two of the richest cities in the United States account for roughly 21 percent of the $844,353 that Strickland’s campaign raised from individuals during the fourth quarter of 2015, according to a review of Federal Election Commission records.

Contributions from New York City area residents alone totaled nearly $120,000, representing 14 percent of Strickland’s fourth-quarter individual contributions.

Many of the donations came from attorneys, real estate executives, and individuals in the financial services industry living in the New York metropolitan area.

Strickland also received a contribution from Victor Pichardo, a member of the New York State Assembly and former aide to New York Sen. Chuck Schumer (D.) who was accused of fraud by his opponent in the 2013 Bronx assembly race.

Strickland, a former Ohio governor and congressman, received 28 maximum $2,700 contributions from New York, and many more checks were written for $500, $1,000, and $2,000.

In the D.C. metro area, the Senate hopeful accumulated over $54,000 in donations from individuals, many of them attorneys, lobbyists, consultants, and CEOs.

Strickland received contributions ranging from $250 to $2,700 from five of his former colleagues at the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank for which Strickland worked before launching his campaign for U.S. Senate. He earned a quarter of a million dollars heading the center’s advocacy arm for less than a year.

A senior vice president at the Center for American Progress hosted a fundraiser for Strickland in Washington last November, where he likely collected some of the contributions itemized in the fourth quarter financial report.

Lobbyist Tony Podesta, one of Hillary Clinton’s top bundlers, also donated $1,000 to Strickland’s campaign in the first quarter. He and his ex-wife, lobbyist Heather Podesta, have both previously made donations to Strickland.

The Podestas are prominent figures in Clinton’s circle. John Podesta, Tony’s brother, is the chair of her presidential campaign.

Strickland also received money from Robert Raben, founder of the Raben Group, a consulting and lobbying firm, and the former assistant attorney general under President Bill Clinton. Last March, it was reported that the Raben Group’s client list included a Muslim charity believed to be a terrorist organization by the governments of Russia, the United Arab Emirates, and Israel. The charity, Islamic Relief Worldwide, allegedly funnels money to Hamas, according to the Jerusalem Post.

Like the New York donors, most of the contributors from Washington wrote large checks to Strickland’s campaign. Twenty-two of the fourth-quarter contributions were priced at $1,000 or more.

The new contributions from Washington-area donors bring Strickland’s D.C. fundraising total to more than $224,000. A previous Free Beacon analysis revealed that he accumulated over $170,000 from Washington residents in the first three quarters of 2015.

Strickland’s campaign has based fundraising appeals on his "refusal" to rely on donations from wealthy individuals.

"Ted REFUSES to rely on the billionaire class to fund his campaign. No matter what. Ted is fighting to take back the Senate for the people of Ohio—the teachers, autoworkers, and hardworking families who want a better future. Not the millionaires and billionaires," a fundraising email sent by his campaign to supporters on Valentine’s Day read.

Washington, D.C., and New York City are the seventh and eighth wealthiest cities in America, according to a Bloomberg analysis published in November.

Strickland’s campaign has also repeatedly demonized his Republican challenger in the general election, incumbent Sen. Rob Portman (R.), as "just one more millionaire in Washington looking out for the interests of billionaires."

Strickland’s influx of cash from New York and D.C. is not surprising given his previous mention of his extensive fundraising trips. The Democratic candidate detailed his travel plans to New York, Washington, Miami, and other cities during a speech at a Hamilton County Democratic Party event in October.

"I’ve got to leave soon after I speak. … I am trying to win this race, so I am going to the airport and I am going to Miami. Tomorrow I am going to be in Miami, then I’m going to be in Fort Lauderdale, then I’m flying to New York," Strickland told the crowd.

"And then I’m having a fundraiser in New York, I’m going to spend two days in New York, and then I’m going to Boston, and then I’m going back to New York, and then I’m going to Washington, D.C."

Strickland has raised a total of $3.8 million for his Senate ambitions, which amounts to only 19 percent of the $20 million his advisers recommended he raise by November 2016 in order to best Portman.

A representative for Strickland’s campaign did not respond to a request for comment.