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Carol Felsenthal
On politics

Fred Eychaner and Ken Griffin, Chicagoans on Top Donors Lists

Lists just out from Politico ranking donors to the two presidential candidates show that, on the Democratic side, Chicagoan Fred Eychaner ranks number one. On the GOP side, at number nine with $2.3 million for Mitt Romney and other Republican PACs and candidates, is Chicago hedge fund billionaire Kenneth Griffin…

Lists just out from Politico ranking donors to the two presidential candidates show that, on the Democratic side, Chicagoan Fred Eychaner ranks number one. Eychaner has contributed $3.7 million (well beyond multi-billionaire George Soros, at $1.2 million) to various Democratic PACs and candidates, including President Obama. At more than $500,000 raised, Eychaner is also one of Obama’s major bundlers for 2012.

The 67-year-old is president and CEO of Newsweb Corporation, a commercial printer specializing in “community, college, and ethnic newspapers.” He also owns several radio stations and a television station. A call to the notoriously press-adverse Eychaner was returned by his spokesman, who told me his boss would be “unavailable to comment.” 

On the GOP side, ranking number nine with $2.3 million for Mitt Romney and other Republican PACs and candidates, is Chicago hedge fund billionaire Kenneth Griffin (with his wife Anne). (In 2008, the 43-year-old founder and CEO of Citadel, gave to both McCain and Obama; this year he appears not to be hedging his bets, but rather putting his money behind Romney.) A call to Griffin, a financial backer of Rahm Emanuel, was not returned by post time.

He and Eychaner are the only Chicagoans on either roster.

These Politico lists resonate this week particularly as the candidates’ disclosure reports show Romney out-fundraising Obama in July, as he has for three months running. (Romney and the RNC raised $101.3 million in July as opposed to Obama and the DNC’s $75 million.) The challenges facing the president’s fundraising machine become even clearer when Eychaner’s number one ranking total is compared to that of his Republican counterpart—casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson’s $36.3 million.

Both candidates hit Chicago this week; Romney was here on Tuesday for fundraisers at Harry Caray’s and Maggiano’s, and Obama this Sunday for four fundraisers, all at his house or at friends/neighbors’ houses. The biggest donors—presumably including Eychaner—get to mix with the president in his Kenwood home, or, more accurately, in his backyard.

The Sun-Times’ Lynn Sweet reports that Obama’s best sources of 2012 support are from the zip codes 60610, 60614, and 60611. Romney’s are 60093 (Winnetka) and 60045 (Lake Forest). Still, Sweet adds, Illinois has given far more in the 2012 cycle to its favorite son, Obama—$27,490,158 to Romney’s $4,719,790. (Totals do not including SuperPAC money.)

Also interesting are some numbers from Romney’s campaign stop on Tuesday morning at a manufacturing plant in Elk Grove Village. The company, Acme Industries—“precision machining of complex parts for large-scale [original equipment manufacturers]—has added 80 jobs in the last year and a half, bringing its workforce to about 200.

Sounds like a made-to-order campaign stop for Barack Obama.

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