Professors Shower Cash on Obama

Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama received more than half of the political contributions made by Harvard professors and staff in the first quarter of 2007, according to an analysis of federal disclosure data released Monday.

The $78,000 that the Illinois senator raised from Harvard affiliates underscores the depth of support the former Harvard Law Review president and University of Chicago law lecturer enjoys among Harvard professors.

Obama’s chief rival for the Democratic nomination, Senator Hillary Clinton of New York, took in less than half of Obama’s Harvard total, raising over $33,000 from University affiliates. The other major recipient of Harvard money was former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, a Republican, who raised nearly $23,000.

In total, Harvard employees donated just over $150,000 to 2008 presidential candidates in the first quarter of this year, according to federal election data available on the Web site of The New York Times. Only donors who registered their Harvard affiliation with their contributions were picked up by the database search.

Compared to Obama, Clinton, and Romney—who were also the top national fundraisers for the quarter—the other candidates received only small sums from Harvard donors.

Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, a Republican, took in $6,700 and former North Carolina Senator John Edwards, a Democrat, raised $4,400.

Senator John McCain, an Arizona Republican who has lagged significantly behind the other major candidates in overall fundraising, did not receive any donations from Harvard employees.

Professors at Harvard Law School, where Obama received his law degree in 1991, were the primary source of the senator’s funds. Much of his take came from a high-dollar fundraiser last month at the Cambridge home of Kirkland and Ellis Professor of Law David B. Wilkins ’77.

Both Wilkins and his wife gave Obama $2,300, the maximum contribution allowed for the primary, as did Loeb University Professor Laurence H. Tribe ’62 and his wife, who both helped organize the event. Smith Professor of Law Martha L. Minow donated $4,600, half of which is reserved for the general election and can only be spent if Obama wins the Democratic nomination.

One of the more surprising $2,300 contributions to Obama came from Anne Gergen. She is the wife of Kennedy School Professor of Public Service David R. Gergen, who has been an adviser to four presidents—including Bill Clinton. Professor Gergen did not respond to requests for comment on whether he too is supporting Obama.

Support for Clinton was diffused throughout the University. Arthur I. Segel ’73, a professor at the Business School, and Shauna L. Shames ’01, a Ph.D. candidate in the government department, both donated $4,600 to Clinton, while Frankfurter Professor of Law Alan M. Dershowitz gave $1,000.

Though Romney, like Obama, is an alumnus of the Law School, his support ran deeper at his other alma matter, Harvard Business School.

The Business School’s Michael E. Porter, the Lawrence university professor, gave $2,300 to Romney. Porter is the co-founder of the Monitor Group, a Cambridge-based consulting firm, while Romney formerly led Boston-based consulting firm Bain & Company.

Romney also received $2,300 from Cizik Professor of Business Administration Clayton M. Christensen, a fellow Mormon. Romney has raised significant funds in the Mormon community, taking in $2.9 million from Utah—a state that is 60 percent Mormon and not usually considered a top source of political dollars.

—Staff writer Paras D. Bhayani can be reached at pbhayani@fas.harvard.edu.for the primary,