Following the Money Behind Tim Kaine

Following the Money Behind Tim Kaine

Hillary Clinton has chosen her potential second-in-command if elected to the White House — Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va. Kaine launched his career as a civil rights lawyer, and he’s no stranger to public service. He’s a former city councilman turned mayor turned lieutenant governor turned governor turned Democratic National Committee chairman turned senator turned newly minted vice presidential candidate. Throughout his time in politics, he’s certainly seen his share of campaign money — we examined the cash behind his extensive career.

A Winning Formula

Kaine has never lost an election since he was elected to the Richmond, Va. City Council in 1994. After serving four years, he was elected mayor of Richmond, and in 2002 he became the lieutenant governor of the state. During his run for lieutenant governor, Kaine raised $2.3 million. One of his biggest donors in 2001 was Gerald T. Halpin an executive for the Virginia-based West Group Management LLC ($40,000), as well as famed author John Grisham ($25,000).

Of note, Virginia is one of 12 states that have no contribution limits on individual donors for statewide elections. Additionally, Virginia is one of four states that offers a tax credit for making political contributions.

Three years later, Kaine became governor of Virginia and a force within the Democratic party — raising $18 million in the process. His 2005 run for governor was buoyed by several special interest groups and big donors, according to the National Institute on Money in State Politics. These include:

  • Washington Wizards and Capitals owner Ted Leonsis ($5,000)
  • Universal Leaf Tobacco ($30,000)
  • Comcast ($30,500)
  • Sprint ($33,453)
  • Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va. ($35,000)
  • Billionaire and Democratic megadonor George Soros ($40,000)
  • Microsoft ($42,890)
  • Altria tobacco ($50,000)
  • Novelist John Grisham ($75,000)
  • Billionaire Randall J. Kirk ($100,000); Kirk and his companies gave Kaine and his PACs nearly a million dollars between 2005-2012. Kaine later appointed Kirk to the Board of Visitors in Virginia.
  • Sandy Lerner, co-founder of Cisco Systems ($188,463)
  • Sheila C. Johnson, co-founder of BET ($392,490); Johnson also gave Kaine $2,500 in airfare to and from the 2008 DNC convention in Denver.

Obama named Kaine to succeed Howard Dean as the DNC chairman in 2009, a position traditionally bestowed to a prolific fundraiser in Congress. The party raised at least $220 million in donations during the 2010 election cycle while Kaine was in charge from 2009-2011 — $28 million more than the RNC over that span.

Bigger Races, Bigger Coffers

During Kaine’s 2012 race against Republican George Allen, he received support from the Service Employees International Union, Environment America Action Fund, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, Planned Parenthood and the National Education Association.

Kaine proposed to Allen that the two ban dark money and force outside groups to disclose their donors. Allen declined. “Let’s adopt a simple rule: No Secret Money,” Kaine wrote. “Let’s commit that any group running ads or conducting electoral activity for either of us should have to disclose their donors.” But Kaine later benefitted from nearly $3 million in dark money, almost all in the forms of attack ads or mailers targeting Allen.

During the race, Kaine faced the third-highest amount of dark money spending, with $11.4 million against him (only behind presidential candidates Barack Obama and Mitt Romney). Kaine received hefty help from outside groups such as A New Virginia PAC, Majority PAC ($6 million) and the League of Conservation Voters ($2 million).

Despite an astounding $10 million spent against him by Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS and $4.4 million in attack ads from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Kaine bested Allen by six points. Kaine and Allen’s Senate race was the most expensive in the country for total independent expenditures, accruing over $50 million.

Kaine’s top contributing industries for the 2012 cycle, excluding the retired, were lawyers and law firms, Wall Street and business services. Kaine took in $1.9 million from the legal sector – by far the most of any new member of Congress, including $30,000 from employees of Bain Capital, Mitt Romney’s former employer.

Only 17 percent of his $18 million came from small donors (contributions of $200 or less). But 28 percent of his $18 million came from 1 percent of the 1 percent, a subgroup of America’s most elite political givers.

Shortly after the race, when confronted on his illegal campaign donations from Jeffrey Thompson, who ran an “assembly line for illegal campaign contributions,” Kaine returned the Thompson-related donations.

Tracking Kaine’s Fundraisers Through Political Party Time

Sunlight’s Political Party Time tool, which tracks political fundraisers, also has a healthy amount of receptions and luncheons benefiting Kaine.

Perhaps most notably, he hosts the annual Smoked ‘N Oaked fundraiser, a “celebration of Virginia barbecue, beer and bourbon at the rooftop of Washington law firm Jones Day. Kaine also benefited from concert fundraisers in 2013 with Democratic supporters Bon Jovi and Beyonce.

While no pro-choice stalwart, Kaine fundraised in 2012 with Cecile Richards, current president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America and its advocacy arm, Planned Parenthood Action Fund.

Will Kaine bring his fundraising prowess to the campaign trail for Clinton? (More importantly, will it still be bourbon themed?) Only time will tell.