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Harvard employees comprise the second-largest group of donors within the education industry to Howard Dean’s presidential campaign, according to a report from the Center for Responsive Politics.
Exceeded in contributions only by employees of the University of California system, Harvard contributors to the Dean campaign gave over $24,000 in the first three quarters of 2003.
Harvard employees also rank eighth within the education industry on the Center’s list of top donors to President George W. Bush’s campaign, having contributed $7,201.
The report issued by the Center—a non-profit, non-partisan Washington, D.C.-based research group—found that college and university employees have contributed over $2.4 million dollars to presidential campaigns for the 2004 election, with $719,000 going to Dean, more than $680,000 to Bush and more than $325,000 to Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass.
Though Harvard employees have actually donated $37,000 to Kerry’s campaign—$13,000 more than they donated to Dean’s campaign—the Center only compared by school the amounts that Dean and Bush have collected.
Professor of Chemical Biology Gregory L. Verdine, who is advising Dean on science and development issues, said he decided to support the candidate after hearing his views on science and its role in economic expansion.
“Dean himself reached out to people in science, and he was really the first of the candidates who did that,” Verdine said.
Verdine said his $1,000 donation to the Dean campaign was the first he ever made to a political campaign.
The education industry is the third-largest cohort of contributors to the Dean campaign, behind retirees and people in the legal profession, according to the report.
Garrett M. Graff ’03, a spokesperson for the Dean campaign and a former Crimson executive, suggested that Dean’s opposition to the war in Iraq and his overall “message of hope” may have contributed to academics’ interest in Dean.
“Professors are often uniquely interested in issues of social justice, and inequities between rich and poor, and they probably believe in the Governor’s positions on health care and civil and equal rights for all Americans,” Graff said.
According to the Center’s report, education is playing a larger role than ever in campaigns.
For the 2004 election, education is ranked 15th among industries that have made donations to campaigns and party committees. In the 2000 election, education was ranked 26th among contributing industries.
Part of this increase may be due to a new ban on soft contributions, preventing industries that use soft money from giving as much to political campaigns or party committees, according the report.
Weatherhead Professor of Public Management Steven J. Kelman ’70, who donated $500 to Kerry’s campaign and now supports Clark, said he doesn’t believe that professors are talking about political issues any more than they have in the past.
Kelman said he is unsure why academics’ contributions to political campaigns have become more significant in this election cycle.
“Maybe professors are getting richer,” he quipped.
—Staff writer Sara E. Polsky can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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