The Money Trail -

The Money Trail

Barack Obama raised a record $32 million in January for his Presidential campaign. The contributions will act like rocket fuel for the Illinois Senator who is trailing Hillary Clinton in the most recent polls involving most Super Tuesday states. The money will allow Obama to hire more staff and unleash an advertising blitz in key states.

The dramatic surge in campaign contributions prompted me to take a look at some of the biggest donors from the St. Louis area. I examined data that includes most of the contributions for the recent quarter.

The most generous zipcode is 63124. That's Ladue, which is the wealthy suburb west of St. Louis. Residents of that zipcode have donated $419,382 to various campaigns in the 2008 Presidential race. Republican candidates claimed most of the money. Mitt Romney received $161,150, more than triple the amount contributed to frontrunner John McCain.

Romney's biggest contributors included Peabody Energy Chairman Irl Engelhardt and his wife Suzanne, who donated $4,200. Another prominant corporate executive, Enterprise Rent-a-car founder Jack Taylor, donated $2,100 to McCain. However, there's no doubt that Romney, a former corporate executive, has the most financial support from executives in this zipcode.

The second most giving zipcode is 63105, which is near Washington University. Residents in that zipcode have given $366,928. Again, Romney received the largest amount of money. The former Massachusetts Governor collected $102,250. However, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama weren't far behind. Clinton received $85,860. Obama got $82,150. McCain only raised $26,527. Mike Huckabee, the most conservative candidate, received $0.

It's not surprising that lawyers, doctors and corporate executives are at the top of the list of the biggest donors. Here are some contributions that got my attention:


Marshall Faulk, former Rams running back, $1,000 to Obama.
Jay Zygmunt, Rams President of Football Operations, $4,600 to Clinton.
John Shaw, Rams President, $4,600 to Clinton.
William DeWitt Jr., Cardinals owner, $2,300 to Romney and $2,000 to McCain.
Jeff Gordon, NASCAR Driver, $2,300 to Rudy Giuliani.

Business and Political Leaders

Maxine Clark, Build A Bear Founder, $1,000 to Clinton and Obama.
August Busch III, Retired Anheiser-Busch Chairman, $2,300 to Clinton and $2,300 to Obama.
James Weddle, Edward Jones Managing Partner, and his wife Stacey, $4,600 to Romney and $3,300 to Christopher Dodd.
Jeff Rainford, Mayor Francis Slay's Chief of Staff, $1,750 to Clinton.
Darlene Green, St. Louis Comptroller, $1,000 to Obama.

Famous Entertainers

Steven Spielberg, Director, $2,300 to Clinton and $2,300 to Obama.
George Clooney, Actor, $2,300 to Obama.
Jerry Springer, Talk Show Host, $4,600 to Clinton.
Jennifer Anniston, Actress, $2,300 to Obama.

My search through on-line campaign donor databases found several families or companies who contributed to at least three candidates. Many contributors targeted their money toward the candidate who appeared to favor their industry. Wealthy investors love Romney, educators target Obama and Clinton.

I've included links that will let you conduct your own quick investigation. You can search for donors by zipcode or name. It's easy.

These tools are crucial for investigative reporters as well. If we need information quickly, a database on the internet can provide answers within a few minutes. It's the kind of content that used to arrive months later in a thick envelope.

Now, like so much information, it's available at our fingertips.

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