The Campaign Spot

Digging Into U.S. Attorneys’ Political Donations

Over on the home page, I take a look at Attorney General Eric Holder’s decision to assign the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, Ronald C. Machen Jr., and the U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland, Rod J. Rosenstein, to lead criminal investigations into recent instances of possible unauthorized disclosures of classified information to the New York Times.

Conservative blogger Duane Lester noticed that Machen is an Obama donor and in fact an early one:

Machen donated $4,350 to Obama’s campaigns. He gave $250 to Obama’s U.S. Senate campaign in 2003, a year before Obama, then an Illinois state senator, emerged on the nation’s political radar, according to campaign finance records.

So how much does Machen stand out as an Obama donor? Are political donations from U.S. Attorneys common, or rare?

Sorting through the campaign-finance records since 2006 reveals that the donor/non-donor divide splits down the middle, although not in partisan distribution. Of the 93 U.S. Attorneys,

forty-seven of these attorneys have not donated any money to any candidates for office in the past six years, according to records available from the Center for Responsive Politics. Collectively, the remaining 46 have donated $235,651 to President Obama, the DNC, and Democratic candidates since January 1, 2007. Not one has donated to any Republican candidate. Of the 46 who donated, 36 donated to President Obama’s presidential campaign in 2008, or his reelection campaign this year, or both, for a total of $77,782.