FILLING CAMPAIGN COFFERS
Byline: Joanna Ramey
WASHINGTON — The beauty industry is filling campaign coffers for this fall’s elections, where the political landscape is poised for change.
Four industry political action committees have amassed $893,278 in donations from among their ranks, according to yearend 1999 Federal Election Commission records. These PACs still have a lot of fund-raising, as well as giving, to do before Nov. 4; so far they’ve disbursed less than a third of their war chests, or $302,675, to various U.S. Congressional, presidential and state and local candidates.
The focus of change in the Washington political power structure is on the White House and the House of Representatives, where Democrats are looking to regain control, given the five-seat Republican majority in the chamber. The Republican 55-45 edge in the Senate is considered secure.
Candidates backed by beauty PACs are largely Republican incumbents in Congress, although they have their Democrat favorites. For president, the PACs haven’t singled out a favorite during this primary season, although industry executives individually have made early donations.
The Avon Products Inc. Fund for Responsible Government last year gave $6,063 to election activities and candidates. Avon still has $31,549 to be donated. Recipients of Avon’s giving thus far include $2,000 gifts each to Rep. Michael Bilirakis (R., Fla.), chairman of the Health and Environment Committee, and the Republican Senate-House Dinner, which in turn raises money for GOP races.
Among the four industry PACs surveyed, Avon last year raised the least amount of money for the 2000 election, while Pfizer Inc. showed the most largesse. Pfizer reported to the FEC $421,980 in its PAC, of which $303,532 was distributed.
Pfizer has given $5,000 to Rep. Michael Oxley’s (R., Ohio) reelection bid. Oxley is the chairman of the House Finance subcommittee. Rep. Roy Blunt (R., Ohio), who is leading the fight in the House against new workplace ergonomics standards, received $1,000 from Pfizer, as did Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R., Miss.).
Among Democrats whom Pfizer is backing are Rep. Sander Levin (D., Mich.), ranking member of the House Trade Subcommittee, and Sen. Evan Bayh (D., Ind.), former Indiana governor elected to national office in 1998.
Procter & Gamble’s PAC last year tallied $220,724 in donations, of which it has disbursed $157,723 to a mix of federal, state and local candidates. Those in Congress getting P&G money were Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert (R., Ill.) and Sen. Lott, who each received $1,000. Free-traders Rep. Jim Kolbe (R., Ariz.) and Senate Finance chairman William Roth received $500 and $1,000, respectively.
Bristol-Myers Squibb Co.’s PAC raised $212,892 last year and made $167,932 in political donations. Among recipients of Bristol-Myers’s giving were House Judiciary Committee Chairman Henry Hyde (R., Ill.) and Rep. David Dreier (R., Calif.), influential chairman of the Rules Committee, which controls debate and limits amendments on legislation in the House. Each received $1,000.
In the Senate, Bristol-Myers gave $1,000 each to Dick Lugar (R., Ind.), Agriculture Committee chairman; Spencer Abraham (R., Michigan), Commerce Committee member, and Chris Dodd (D., Conn.), ranking member on the Foreign Relations and Banking subcommittees.
Political giving outside corporate-run PACs has been moderate as candidates enter the primary season. Individuals are limited to $1,000 donations per candidate for each primary and general election and $5,000 to PACs.
Lauder family members again are active campaign contributors.
Leonard Lauder, chairman of Estee Lauder Cos., spread donations among presidential candidates, giving $2,000 each to Democrats Bill Bradley and Al Gore and $1,000 each to Republicans George W. Bush and Steve Forbes.
Other Leonard Lauder contributions include $1,000 to New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani’s U.S. Senate bid and $2,000 to Rep. Gary Ackerman’s (D., N.Y.) campaign to hold onto his Queens district seat. Leonard Lauder also has given $1,000 each to the primary campaigns of Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D., Calif.) and Charles Robb (D., Va.). He also gave $5,000 to Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle’s (D., S.D.) PAC, Dedicated Americans for the Senate.
Evelyn Lauder, a senior corporate vice president at Estee Lauder who is married to Leonard Lauder, has sent $2,000 check to Gore’s campaign and $1,000 to Feinstein. In addition, Evelyn Lauder has given Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D., N.Y.) $2,000 in her reelection bid to keep her Manhattan district seat.
William Lauder, president of Origins Natural Resources and Leonard’s son, has given $1,000 to Gore and Bush and $1,500 to Bradley. He also wrote a $1,000 check to the New York Republican Federal Campaign Committee.
Ronald Lauder, chairman of Clinique Laboratories and Leonard’s brother, has written checks for $500 to the campaigns of Rep. Pete King (R., N.Y.) and the Political Club for Growth, a PAC backing Republican candidates.
Other individual contributions from beauty industry executives include the $1,000 donation to Sen. John Kerry (D., Mass.) from Revlon chairman Ronald O. Perelman. Avon’s retired chairman James Preston also gave $1,000 to Bush and another $1,000 to the campaign of Rep. Nancy Johnson (R., Conn.), who’s chairwoman of the Health subcommittee.