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Bloomberg: Credit Suisse, Verizon Executives Hedge Bets for 2008 Campaign # (*Shell Oil President John Hofmeister playing two faced politics – for once he has no comment)

By Julianna Goldman and Kristin Jensen

April 19 (Bloomberg) — “Double-dipping” — giving donations to two political candidates in the same race — isn’t uncommon, nor are contributions from chief executive officers.

What’s less common is when the double-dippers are top executives giving to both parties. In the first three months of this year, at least 35 chairmen or chief executive officers, including Verizon Communications Inc. CEO Ivan Seidenberg and Brady Dougan, who becomes head of Zurich-based Credit Suisse Group next month, have contributed to both Republican and Democratic presidential candidates, according to Federal Election Commission figures.

These high-powered double-dippers have the means to make the major donations sought by candidates across the political spectrum and may be more likely to focus on winning powerful friends — perhaps a future president — than on ideology.

“They aren’t necessarily as partisan as they are interested in having a relationship with the potential next president of the United States,” said Charles Gabriel, a senior political analyst at Prudential Equity Group in Washington.

Dougan, 47, quadruple-dipped, giving $2,300 each to Democrats Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, as well as Republicans Rudy Giuliani and John McCain. That figure is the maximum amount allowed to each candidate for the primary election. Many presidential candidates also take money for the post-nomination general election, bringing the maximum someone can give one candidate to $4,600.

Shell, Verizon

That’s the amount that John Hofmeister, the head of Royal Dutch Shell Plc’s U.S. unit, gave to Clinton. He also gave $2,100 to Giuliani. New York-based Verizon’s Seidenberg, 60, gave $2,300 to Clinton, 59, and $2,100 to McCain, 70. Dougan declined to comment; neither Hofmeister nor Seidenberg responded to requests for interviews.

Many of the double-dipping executives run companies in regulated industries with critical interests before the federal government. Such companies usually employ a number of Washington lobbying firms, and their lobbyists probably advise them to spread their cash, said Jim Bonham, a former executive director of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

“They don’t allow ideology to get in the way of what’s smart for their business,” Bonham said.

Robert Catell, chief executive of Brooklyn-based Keyspan Corp., a natural gas distributor, gave $4,600 each to Giuliani and Clinton, his fellow New Yorkers.
`It Makes Sense’

“We have two viable candidates from New York and when you’re a New York executive it makes sense to be supportive,” Catell, 70, said in an e-mailed statement.

Thomas J. Pritzker, chairman and chief executive of Chicago-based Hyatt Corp., contributed $2,300 to the Obama and McCain campaigns. His cousin, Penny Pritzker, is Obama’s finance chairwoman. Richard Cook, 56, chairman of Burbank, California- based Walt Disney Studios, also contributed to both the Obama and McCain campaigns – giving $4,600 to Obama and $2,300 to McCain. Thomas Pritzker was traveling and wasn’t available to comment. Cook didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Other executives giving to both parties include Brad Grey, 49, chairman and CEO of Los Angeles-based Paramount Pictures Corp., who gave $2,300 to Giuliani and $4,600 to Clinton, and Austin Beutner, 47, CEO of New York-based Evercore Partners Inc., who gave $2,300 to Clinton and $2,100 to Giuliani, 62. Neither responded to requests for comment.

The dual-giving figures are based on a Bloomberg analysis of figures compiled by PoliticalMoneyLine, a Washington-based company that tracks campaign finance and the self-reported titles of donors. Candidates must give the FEC the names of everyone who donated $200 or more. In all, at least 240 people gave to presidential candidates in both parties.

Clinton, a New York senator, got money from at least 51 people who also gave to Arizona Senator McCain and 69 who sent money to ex-New York Mayor Giuliani. Obama, 45, an Illinois senator, received donations from at least 65 people who also gave to McCain and 71 who contributed to Giuliani.

The analysis of FEC filings included only people who gave to Clinton, Obama, Giuliani and McCain, who make up the top candidates in both parties, according to public opinion polls.

“In many cases, when executives and others give, they’re thinking about their economic interests,” said Larry Noble, a former FEC general counsel and a lawyer at the Washington office of Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom LLP. “They don’t want to necessarily close any doors.”

To contact the reporters on this story: Julianna Goldman in Washington at [email protected] ; Kristin Jensen in Washington at [email protected]
Last Updated: April 19, 2007 00:09 EDT

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