MoJo 400: Top Ten

Bald ambition: a look at the power elite who top this year’s list. Click on any of these folks’ dollar totals to see an itemized list of their donations.


No. 1
Richard M. and Helen DeVos
Grand Rapids, Mich.,
$1,019,000
Richard M. DeVos, 72, is the founder of Amway Corp. Helen DeVos is a philanthropist. (See “Tough Sell“)

Photo by Chip Fox/ Philadelphia Inquirer

No. 2
Peter L. Buttenwieser
Last year’s rank: No. 94, Philadelphia, Pa.,
$610,000
A wealthy philanthropist, Buttenwieser, 62, made waves last year when he claimed that former Clinton-Gore fundraiser Terry McAuliffe hit him up for a donation in exchange for an “intimate luncheon” with the president. McAuliffe responded by calling Buttenwieser a “kook” in Mother Jones (“Big Game Hunter,” May/June 1997).

“It’s not a terrible thing to be called a kook,” Buttenwieser says now. “I wasn’t comfortable with the quid pro quo offer; it’s not the way I operate.”

Buttenwieser spent 10 years as a school principal in inner-city Philadelphia and now helps charitable foundations design education reform programs. He’s a true-blue Democrat. “It’s a very important year for Democrats,” he says, “and I’m very anxious to do everything I can to help us…retake the Senate in 2000.”

No. 3
Bernard L. and Irene Schwartz
Last year’s rank: No. 1, New York, N.Y.,
$555,000
Schwartz, 72, is the CEO of Loral Space & Communications.

By the end of last summer, no fewer than 10 congressional committees and subcommittees were investigating whether the Clinton administration’s policy of allowing aerospace company Loral Space & Communications to launch satellites in China had helped advance Beijing’s own missile technology research program. Following the scent, the media has focused its attention on the unfortunate object of the president’s affections, Bernard L. Schwartz, the slight, bald, septuagenarian CEO of Loral.

Schwartz has given Democrats $1.4 million since 1991, during the Clinton years, and was a member of the Mother Jones 400 well before he became mired in this scandal (he ranked No. 1 last year). As Mother Jones reported last year, he was honored on his 71st birthday with a private White House dinner. It’s because of this access, Clinton’s critics suggest, that the president rubber-stamped Loral’s launches in China — even after Loral apparently ignored security procedures in 1996 by faxing Beijing a draft report about a Chinese rocket crash that destroyed a Loral satellite.
(See “Heavy Metal“)

No. 4
Carl H. and Edyth Lindner
Last year’s rank: No. 55, Cincinnati, Ohio,
$536,000
Lindner, 79, is the CEO of Chiquita Brands International. (See “Banana Split“)

Photo by David L. Ryan/ Boston Globe

No. 5
John Childs
Last year’s rank: No. 104, Boston, Mass.,
$383,000
“My theory,” Childs, 57, told the Boston Globe in 1995, “has generally been: Don’t talk to people and they won’t write about you.” In 1994 Childs reportedly pocketed $20 million when the investment firm he then worked for, Thomas H. Lee Co., brokered a deal by which Quaker Oats bought Snapple for $1.7 billion. He is mum about why he gives so much money to Republicans.

Photo by Sherman Zent/ Palm Beach Post

No. 6
S. Daniel Abraham
Last year’s rank: No. 12, West Palm Beach, Fla.,
$353,500
Among the thousands of pages of files released by the White House and the Democratic National Committee last year amid allegations of questionable fundraising practices is a memo that reads, “Ask Danny for $100K.” It was a “call memo” prepared by top DNC officials for either the president or vice president, and “Danny” is S. Daniel Abraham, 73, founder of Slim-Fast. He is chair of Thompson Medical, and one of the Democratic Party’s most loyal contributors.

No. 7
Alan D. Solomont and Susan Lewis
Last year’s rank: No. 370, Weston, Mass.,
$321,750
Solomont, 49, is a health care consultant and was finance chair of the Democratic National Committee for 1997.

Photo by Frank Ockenfels/ Outline

No. 8
Julian H. Jr. and Josephine Robertson
Last year’s rank: No. 64, New York, N.Y.,
$313,000
Robertson, 66, heads Tiger Management, one of the world’s largest hedge funds, and clearly favors the Republicans’ more business-friendly financial policies. But his heart — or at least his wife, Josephine’s — apparently belongs to dance. In September, Robertson donated $25 million to the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts as a surprise for her.

No. 9
Orin Kramer
Last year’s rank: No. 24, Fort Lee, N.J.,
$288,250
Kramer, 53, who owns the investment firm Kramer Spellman, has served as an aide to presidents Carter and Clinton and has a soft spot for the environment: He wrote a book titled Cleaning Up Hazardous Waste: Is There a Better Way? He also has a soft spot for the president, telling the Bergen County (N.J.) Record: “I’m a strong supporter of the president and I am a strong supporter of the principle that the president should not be bankrupt by the prosecutorial political process.”

No. 10
David and Sylvia Steiner
Last year’s rank: No. 85, West Orange, N.J.,
$280,370
Real estate mogul David Steiner, 68, is vice chair of the Washington, D.C.-based National Jewish Democratic Council. He hosted the Clintons for a fundraising dinner last February and recently told the New York Times that Clinton’s problems would not deter his fundraising efforts, saying: “There are always some people who are not going to give, but the core group is going to continue to support the party.”

    Members like you

    Mother Jones is a nonprofit, and stories like this are made possible by readers like you. or to help fund independent journalism.