Baucus Raises $7.4 Million, Most From Out of State

By Beacon Staff

HELENA (AP) – Sen. Max Baucus has raised $7.4 million for a likely 2008 re-election bid, with nearly 91 percent of his individual donations coming from outside Montana.

“Given (Baucus’) situation, where he’s from and that he’s an incumbent, that’s not eye-popping, but he is on the high side,” said Massie Ritsch, spokesman for the Center for Responsive Politics.

Lawmakers from sparsely populated states typically pull in money from out of state, Ritsch said. That’s particularly true for incumbents, because they’re bringing in money not just from the people they represent but also from the industries whose interests they oversee and regulate, he added.

Baucus, who has not formally announced he is seeking re-election, had about $5.4 million in cash on hand as of Sept. 30, according to Federal Election Commission reports.

Almost 91 percent of the money Baucus received from individuals, or $3.45 million, came from out of state, while $353,000 came from Montanans, according to figures compiled by the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics.

Baucus spokesman Barrett Kaiser said Montanans from each of the state’s 56 counties have donated to the senator and noted, “We haven’t kick-started the Montana fundraising effort yet.”

Individual donations came to Baucus largely from the typical big-donor states. Of the top 10 ZIP codes for individual donations, seven were in New York City. The list also included affluent Beverly Hills, Calif., and Greenwich, Conn. The only Montana ZIP code on the senator’s top 10 list was 59802, in Missoula, at No. 10.

Baucus received 89.2 percent of his political action committee money from business groups, 4.7 percent from labor unions and 6.1 percent from ideological or single-issue groups.

Grouped together, the finance, insurance and real estate sector gave Baucus nearly $1.5 million, followed by the health sector, at $1.1 million, and lawyers and lobbyists, with $639,000.

The single top contributor was investment banking giant Goldman Sachs with $50,200. The organization itself did not donate, but the money came from the organization’s PAC, its individual members or employees or owners, and those individuals’ immediate families. Organization totals include subsidiaries and affiliates.

Former House Majority Leader Michael Lange, R-Billings, is the only candidate challenging Baucus so far. Lange had raised $5,000 by Sept. 30, he said.

The lack of opposition may be in part because of all the cash Baucus has raised, Ritsch said.

“A hefty bank account is a great defense,” he said. “It deters people from taking you on. That’s one reason incumbents bankroll as much as they do.”

Baucus spokesman Kaiser noted that raising money is a reality in modern-day politics.

“Max thinks there’s way too much money in politics,” Kaiser said. “And he’s supported every piece of real campaign finance reform ever put in front of him. But until the system is changed, he’s not going to unilaterally disarm.”