Reports says credit card industry gives most to Bush

By Associated Press, 12/15/99

CONCORD, N.H. -- The country's biggest credit card companies gave nearly $1.5 million dollars to presidential candidates and political parties in the first nine months of this year, with about $433,000 going to Texas Gov. George W. Bush, said a report released Wednesday.

The report by New Hampshire Citizens Alliance and Iowa Citizen Action Network Education Foundation was the third in a series studying special interest money in the campaign.

Tris Newbury, the report's author, said the industry has issues pending before Congress, and is putting its money on Bush, the Republican front-runner, in hopes that he will win the election and give the industry special consideration in return.

"They clearly want to make sure the next president understands their position," Newbury said.

But the industry is also giving to other candidates in case Bush doesn't win, she said. Democrat Bill Bradley received $104,000 and Vice President Al Gore got $47,640.

The report looks at donations from political action committees and from employees of 41 credit card companies and their spouses. The companies are not allowed to give directly to campaigns, which is why the report looks at employees and their spouses, Newbury said.

Of the nearly $1.5 million, $575,000 came from individual contributions. The companies gave another $37,300 through their PACs.

Soft money contributions -- unregulated donations to political parties -- totaled about $865,000, with $620,600 going to the GOP and $244,400 going to Democrats.

Anne Campbell of the Citizens Alliance said that over the past two years, the credit card industry has been trying to change bankruptcy laws so companies can collect more money from customers who declare bankruptcy.

Consumer groups have been fighting the changes, saying that aggressive marketing by the industry is to blame for a rising number of bankruptcy filings. The filings numbered 1.4 million in 1998, Campbell said.

Among other GOP candidates, Arizona Sen. John McCain received $14,200; Orrin Hatch, $12,500; Gary Bauer, $600; and Steve Forbes, nothing.