• August 31, 2015

College Employees Give Millions to Federal Campaigns, Especially to Democrats

Employees of colleges and other educational entities have donated a total of about $13.5-million to candidates for federal offices this election cycle, with most of that money going to Democrats, says a report released on Wednesday by the Center for Responsive Politics.

The center, a Washington-based research group that compiles and analyzes federal campaign contributions, explored the donations made by employees of educational institutions through July 31. While nonprofit colleges cannot contribute directly to political campaigns, administrators, faculty members, and other employees are allowed to make individual contributions.

The University of California, which employs more than 180,000 faculty and staff members, topped the list of colleges whose employees contributed the most. They gave a total of $483,981 to various campaigns, 86 percent of which went to Democrats.

The list of the top-10 college contributors, based on employee donations, includes other large and selective universities, including Harvard University in second place, Stanford University in third, and the University of Texas in sixth. Some for-profit education companies and groups also ranked in the top 10, including the Apollo Group, which owns the University of Phoenix and ranked fourth, and the Association of Private-Sector Colleges and Universities, formerly the Career College Association, which represents for-profit colleges and ranked fifth.

Royall & Company, a marketing company for for-profit universities, topped the list of education entities whose employees gave the most to Republican candidates, but it was not ranked among the top 20 institutions for overall contributions. Company employees gave $80,367 to Republican campaigns.

The report also mentions individual employees who made large contributions to political campaigns. Carol H. Winograd, an associate professor emerita of medicine and human biology at Stanford, topped the list, contributing $136,300 to various Democratic campaigns this election cycle.

The top three recipients in the Senate were all Democrats. Barbara Boxer of California, who received $175,019, Charles E. Schumer of New York, who took in $170,175, and Harry M. Reid of Nevada, who took in $143,700. In the House, the top three recipients were also Democrats. Bill Foster of Illinois took in $126,945, George Miller of California took in $115,961, and Paul W. Hodes of New Hampshire received $93,700.


1. crunchycon - September 22, 2010 at 04:03 pm

No surprise here.

2. pamblome - September 22, 2010 at 04:04 pm

Of course, most university employees know that the Party of No will hurt them...

3. crunchycon - September 22, 2010 at 04:09 pm

Pamblome -- the "no" is no more taxation, no more deficit spending, no more excuses.... There's your "no".

4. crunchycon - September 22, 2010 at 04:13 pm

"no more taxation" as in "no more ADDITIONAL taxation"
And, of course AFSCME and SEIU members know what will happen if they don't toe the (party) line.

5. 11234450 - September 22, 2010 at 04:19 pm

In a political system where policies are determined by financial contributions to representatives, people will compete to buy the support of their own interests. Of course, this is not what the Founding Fathers envisioned, or even a system that can continue to function in such a fashion. But, given the fact that colleges are largely funded by Federal Programs, especially guaranteed student loans and research grants, and that Democrats are basically responsible for such programs, it would be natural for those employed by universities to support them. It is very rare for people to bite the hand that feeds them, even if it means a moral compromise.

6. jbarman - September 22, 2010 at 04:48 pm

Compare the tone of the current article to the one the Chronicle ran on Friday:

"Members of Congress who signed letters to Education Secretary Arne Duncan that expressed concern about the Education Department's proposed "gainful employment" rule received nearly $94,000 in campaign contributions from for-profit colleges from January to late July, according to ProPublica, an independent, nonprofit news outlet focusing on investigations. In the face of the new rule, which would cut off federal student aid to programs whose graduates have high debt-to-income ratios and low loan-repayment rates, and attacks from Congress, for-profit colleges have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars lobbying Congress and federal agencies, nearly doubling their lobbying expenditures over the past year."

Why are contributions by the for-profits viewed in such a negative tone, while contributions from Cal, Harvard, Stanford, and Texas are seen as innocuous?

7. janetpoley - September 22, 2010 at 04:59 pm

I am confused. It seems we are comparing apples and oranges in terms of donors. Comparing conations from individuals who work for non-profit universities with corporate donations doesn't make sense. How do we know what the individuals who work for corporations give?

This story should have been more sophisticated in its reporting.


8. princeton67 - September 22, 2010 at 05:17 pm

I guess that this article is in CHE because CHE deals with the actions of higher education personnel. So, we find out that such personnel give money to their candidates of choice. Imagine my surprise! Apparently, CHE considers it newsworthy that UCal employees gave, on the average, $2.68. Gasp!

9. crunchycon - September 23, 2010 at 09:44 am

princeton67 -- I think you realize that the point isn't that UCal employees gave an average of $2.68, but rather that 99.9% of $2.68 times thousands and thousands (tens of thousands?) went to one political party's candidates. The 86% going to democrats cited in the article includes faculty at conservative universities, so it stands to reason that at liberal institutions the percentage is much, much higher, though I have to admit that my supposition of percentage may be a trifle high -- but not by much.

10. mmeisens - September 23, 2010 at 10:31 am

Does someone really want to make the argument that university facutly are not politically biased? The consequance of this is that in most of their teaching they are wrong and are misleading students. Universities are now no more and not less than ideological boot-camps for the left and the Democrat Party. If you are to look at one place that is working for the destruction of the United States it is university campuses.

11. lexalexander - September 23, 2010 at 10:35 am

I analyzed campaign contributions off and on for 20 years, and this surprises me not one bit, particularly inasmuch as Republican elected officials have been disproportionately hostile to higher-education funding at all levels, with disastrous consequences for the country's intellectual capital.

Here in North Carolina, in 1980 the typical student financial-aid package was about roughly 60% grants to 40% loans. (Those aren't precise figures, but the proportion made up by work-study aid was minuscule in comparison to those two. By 1990, the balance had reversed, with loans taking up 60%, and it's only gotten worse since then.

And, crunchycon, if you're so serious about balancing the budget, how 'bout we take a REAL hard look at Defense, Homeland Security and freakin' ag subsidies before we start eating our seed corn.

12. physicsprof - September 23, 2010 at 10:38 am

#10, "Does someone really want to make the argument that university facutly are not politically biased? The consequance of this is that in most of their teaching they are wrong and are misleading students."

Are you speaking about sciences and engineering too?

13. crunchycon - September 23, 2010 at 02:41 pm

lexalexander -- I agree that ALL bugetary items -- including welfare, social security, & medicare, as well as ag subsidies (and other socialist policies, such as the behemoth health care law that will further bankrupt the country) should be reviewed - cuts made -- budget balanced.

Additionally, foreign aid should be stopped until we are again balanced. Why on earth are we giving "loans" to countries that have no intention of paying the funds back, and outright giving monetary gifts to countries when our country is going to collapse, financially, if the current policies aren't stopped?

And as far as defense goes, hey! why not let some other country be the world's police for a change. Oh! I forgot; no one else could or would want to. But, yes I agree, let's stop all military assistance to the rest of the world. My one exception would be Israel. Okay. I'm ready for the screeds that are sure to come for that comment.

14. lexalexander - September 24, 2010 at 10:32 am

@crunchycon: We're in rough agreement except that there is no need to cut Social Security benefits or raise retirement age. SS is good for close to another 40 years even if we do nothing, and can be made good to a 75-year horizon with minimal fixes (raising or eliminating the amount of income subject to FICA withholding).

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