Arizona Donors Give McCain Cold Shoulder

Created: July 17, 2008 14:07 | Last updated: July 31, 2020 00:00

PHOENIX–Sen. John McCain’s Arizona campaign chairman, fellow Republican Sen. Jon Kyl, is missing from McCain’s list of 26 Arizona bundlers who have raised $50,000 or more in contributions for his presidential campaign.

Kyl, the Senate minority whip, bundled more than $100,000 of campaign contributions for President George W. Bush in 2004. Kyl frequently appears at campaign events as a McCain stand-in and the two are close friends. Kyl, a hard-line conservative, supported the presumed Republican presidential candidate on comprehensive immigration reform, but splits with McCain on some major issues — including energy policy, campaign-finance reform and climate change. Calls to Kyl’s Phoenix and Washington office for comment Wednesday were not returned.

(Matt Mahurin) Kyl is one of a group of leading Arizona Republican fund-raisers more active in raising money for Bush than they have, to date, for McCain. Many expected names appear on McCain’s Arizona big contributor list — but there are glaring omissions. Leading GOP state elected officials and some key state party activists are giving far less financial support to the party’s national candidate this election cycle than in 2000 and 2004 — though their favorite son is the likely nominee. This could well be because Bush was considered more acceptable on issues the conservative GOP base cares about, with his anti-tax, pro-business agenda and his willingness to move religion into the center of the political mix.

Responding to media pressure, McCain, and Sen. Barack Obama, released names Wednesday of major fund-raisers who collected campaign contributions from individual donors or bundled. The list provides a snapshot of each candidates’ key supporters.

McCain reports 132 Arizona bundlers, of which only 26 raised $50,000 or more — less than one-tenth of what Bush managed from Texas (granted a far larger state), in his first White House run in 2000. Bush only had six bundlers in Arizona for his 2000 and 2004 campaign, but they raised more than $3 million in his reelection bid. One of those bundlers is Joyce Haver, a prominent Phoenix business leader, who raised more than $100,000 for Bush in 2000 and 2004.

Haver has not geared up her fund-raising operation for McCain. She runs an economic-development company called Rainmakers, and is well-connected through her work as vice president of the Greater Phoenix Economic Council. Haver was a member of Progress for America Committee, a White House initiative to support Bush’s domestic-policy agenda.

Haver told The New York Times in March that her lack of enthusiasm stemmed from a number of factors — including her specific dislike of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law and her growing frustration with politics in general. "It’s a lot of work," Haver wrote in an email last night, "and I’m currently too busy with my business — although I am doing some fund-raising for the senator. Raising money for both Bush campaigns was almost like a full time job, but an enjoyable one."

P. Robert Fannin, a well-known Phoenix attorney and civic leader, raised more than $200,000 for Bush in 2004, but is not included in McCain’s list of major bundlers with more than $50,000. Bush appointed Fannin as ambassador to the Dominican Republic last November. He could not be reached for comment.

Some leading Bush fund-raisers are on target for McCain. The Arizona Diamondbacks owner Earl “Ken” Kendrick bundled as much as $100,000 for McCain, but raised more than $100,000 for Bush in 2000. The only other Arizona fund-raiser who has raised as much for McCain as for Bush is James Click, the Tucson automobile dealer.

Click raised at least $100,000 for Bush in 2000 and at least $200,000 in 2004. He’s already raised between $100,000 and $250,000 for McCain.

But another notable figure missing from McCain’s list is the Arizona state Republican Party Chairman Randy Pullen. Pullen’s absence from even relatively minor fund-raising is one sign that conservative state Republicans might be disenchanted with McCain.

Pullen lead a political rebellion by conservative Republicans angered with McCain’s support of comprehensive immigration reform, that included a pathway to citizenship for illegal aliens. Last August, Pullen secured passage of a resolution by the Republican National Committee that called for Congress to pass legislation that secures the border, without any form of amnesty. Pullen could not be reached for comment, and a state GOP official said the party would not comment.

In fact, the better part of the state’s GOP political leadership is not listed as McCain bundlers for any amount, including former Arizona Gov. Jane Dee Hull, who bore the brunt of McCain’s infamous temper on several occasions, and Reps. Trent Franks, John Shadegg and Jeff Flake. One elected official, Rep. Rick Renzi, had been McCain’s Arizona co-campaign chairman, but resigned after he was indicted earlier this year on corruption charges.

Some wealthy Arizona business leaders are listed in the minimum bundler category of up to $50,000, suggesting a lack of deep-pocket enthusiasm for the favorite son. These include Ira Fulton, an influential real-estate developer who has given more than $100 million to Arizona State University; Samuel Garvin, who has given $60 million to the Thunderbird School of International Management and Jerry Bisgrove, a real-estate developer whose Stardust Foundation donated $25 million to the state’s leading charity.

McCain is far behind Bush’s 2000 pace when it comes to raising money from home state contributors, a reflection of the economic clout within each state — but also a signal of the depth of support for each candidate. Bush was a popular governor, liked by his party establishment, while McCain has alienated his GOP base by not hewing to the conservative line. McCain further damaged his standing by not attending the state GOP convention in May. There, delegates, under the careful watch of armed security guards called in to keep political differences from erupting into mayhem, selected a slate of delegates for the Republican National Convention.

McCain’s 26 bundlers who have raised $50,000 or more is a sliver of the number of major bundlers that Bush assembled in Texas for his 2000 run for the White House. Bush had 269 bundlers who raised a minimum of $100,000 in his first election. The number tapered off in 2004, but he still had more than twice what McCain has managed from his home state, with 65 bundlers raising more than $100,000.

Most of McCain’s major Arizona bundlers are prominent business leaders. The three who raised more than $500,000 include:

  • Ron N. Barness, a Scottsdale commercial real-estate broker, and Phoenix chairman of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or AIPAC.
  • Donald M. Diamond, a Tucson real-estate investor, subject of a New York Times story about using his ties to McCain to secure lucrative land deals.
  • Deborah Gullett, a former McCain adviser who served as a moderate Republican state representative before working as chief of staff to Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon, a Democrat. Her husband, Wes Gullett, is a lobbyist, political consultant and former McCain deputy campaign manager in 2000.

McCain has a history of raising substantial campaign funds from his wife’s ownership in Hensley & Co., distributor of Budweiser and other beer brands with sales estimated at $300 million or more a year. McCain’s son, Andrew K. McCain, Hensley chief financial officer, and Robert M. Delgado, Hensley vice chairman and CEO, each raised between $250,000 and $500,000 for McCain’s campaign.

Peoria, Ariz. physician Oliver J. Harper has also bundled $250,000 to $500,000 for McCain. His wife, Sharon, raised between $100,000 and $250,000. She is CEO of Plaza Companies, a real-estate development company.

Nearly half of McCain’s bundlers gathered between $100,000 and $250,000 for the campaign, including:

  • Steven A. Betts, president and CEO of SunCor Development, a subsidiary of Pinnacle West Capital Corp. which owns Arizona Public Service Co., the state’s largest electric utility and operator of the nation’s largest nuclear power plant, Palo Verde Nuclear Generating station. The Washington Post reported that Betts was hired by an Arizona rancher to lobby McCain to support passage of a federal land swap that benefited the rancher. Betts was a former campaign lawyer for McCain.
  • William Post, chief executive officer of Pinnacle West, a holding company with $11 billion in assets, has been a major contributor. CQ MoneyLine reports that McCain’s campaigns have received $224,000 since 1998 from donors connected to Pinnacle West.