U staff gives to Democrats

If today’s election repeats history, Utah’s five electoral votes will go to Sen. John McCain, but he won’t be thanking either students or employees at the U for his victory here.

During the past year, two different Hinckley Institute of Politics straw polls have indicated U students’ overwhelming support of Sen. Barack Obama for president. Official campaign finance reports show that U employees are equally enthusiastic about the Democratic nominee and have been donating generously to his campaign during the election cycle.

According to the Federal Election Commission, 263 contributors to 2008 presidential hopefuls named the U as their employer on disclosure forms. The individual amounts U employees donated during both the primary and general elections have ranged from $5 to $4,600, adding to nearly $175,000.

Of that total, more than 60 percent has gone to Obama. Hillary Clinton and Mitt Romney have each pulled in around 15 percent of the total contributions, and McCain has raised about $5,000 from U employees.

Although the majority of the campaign cash coming from the U has gone to Obama, there has been a clear preference for Republican candidates among senior administration officials. U President Michael Young donated $1,000 to the McCain campaign in April of this year, and Jack Brittain, dean of the David Eccles School of Business, gave $250 to the Arizona senator last December, according to the FEC. Neither Young nor Brittain listed the U as his employer on contribution forms.

Hinckley Institute of Politics Director Kirk Jowers said he isn’t surprised at either the amount of money Obama has been able to raise among U employees or the percentage he has claimed of the total amount donated.

“University employees all across the country are notoriously known for supporting left-leaning candidates in most elections,” Jowers said. “So it’s not a surprise that they would donate disproportionately to the Democrat this time around.”

The same financial disclosure reports show that U Hospitals and Clinics CFO Gordon Crabtree gave the maximum allowed $2,300 to Romney’s campaign in December, and that Utah Museum of Fine Arts Director David Lawrence Dee also contributed the maximum amount to Romney.

Obama donors have given smaller individual amounts and include Raymond Tymas-Jones, dean of the College of Fine Arts, who gave $600 to the Democratic nominee during the first half of 2008, and Campus Recreation Director Mary Bohlig, who gave $200 in August.

A couple of high profile U employees have contributed to the campaign of New York Sen. Clinton, who battled Obama for the Democratic nomination through the end of the primary season.

Director of Development and Patient Relations for the School of Medicine Donald Dunn donated $2,300 to Clinton’s campaign, and Dean of Students Annie Nebeker Christensen gave Clinton $352.

Vice President for Research Thomas N. Parks gave $100 to Democrat Bill Richardson, the only contribution listed from a U employee for the former New Mexico governor, who left the race early in the primary season.

The financial advantage Obama has had over McCain among U employees is far more pronounced than the advantage he has seen in the state overall, where he has raised $1.4 million as compared to McCain’s $1 million.

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