Peter L. Buttenwieser, an heir to the Lehman Brothers securities fortune, has been among the most generous Demoncratic donors for nearly a decade. Since 1990, has donated $ million to Democratic causes, and has hosted fundraising events for scores of Democratic candidates. Two years ago, on a single day, he rolled out the welcome mat at lunch for Sen. Paul Wellstone of Minnesota, who was engaged in a hard-fought reelection campaign, and at dinner for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.
Buttenweiser also has politics in his family tree: His great-uncle, Herbert Lehman, was a U.S. senator from New York. Still, Buttenweiser has shied away from the usual favors that come with such campaign largesse. He turned down invitations to dine at the White House during the Clinton years. And he has remained particularly focused on a few issues, among them public education. Having spent a decade as a principal at an inner-city school in Philadelphia, Buttenweiser now runs his own educational consulting firm.
"I don't feel the need to ask for things," he told the Philadelphia Daily News. "It allows me a certain role in Democratic politics that I couldn't get by asking for stuff. My strength is not asking."