Cory and the money men

It’s no secret in my part of the world that Cory Booker is a very ambitious man, whose horizons stretch far beyond New Jersery. (Until the election of Barack Obama, many observers thought he would be the first black president.)

This might explain his fondness for Bain Capital – their employees were among his earliest financial backers:

A ThinkProgress examination of New Jersey campaign finance records for Booker’s first run for Mayor — back in 2002 — suggests a possible reason for his unease with attacks on Bain Capital and venture capital. They were among his earliest and most generous backers.

Contributions to his 2002 campaign from venture capitalists, investors, and big Wall Street bankers brought him more than $115,000 for his 2002 campaign. Among those contributing to his campaign were John Connaughton ($2,000), Steve Pagliuca ($2,200), Jonathan Lavine ($1,000) — all of Bain Capital. While the forms are not totally clear, it appears the campaign raised less than $800,000 total, making this a significant percentage.

He and his slate also jointly raised funds for the “Booker Team for Newark” joint committee. They received more than $450,000 for the 2002 campaign from the sector — including a pair of $15,400 contributions from Bain Capital Managing Directors Joshua Bekenstein and Mark Nunnelly. It appears that for the initial campaign and runoff, the slate raised less than $4 million — again making this a sizable chunk.

Yes, the private equity firms love Cory for so many reasons. For one thing, he just loves their ideas about privatizing education:

Even putting aside direct donations to Booker’s campaign, Wall Street has also curried favor with the Newark Mayor through other routes. For example, Bloomberg chronicled in 2010 how Booker worked to raiseas much as $240 million from Wall Street and other American financial services hubs to invest in urban renewal in the city of Newark. By promising dollars for projects Booker backed, Wall Street has has possibly been able to exert a level of influence on him.

Another prominent Booker backer is Julian Robertson, a retired hedge fund manager. Robertson also happens to be one of Romney’s strongest backers, giving at least $1 million to the pro-Romney Super PAC Restore Our Future. Robertson’s $1.8 million in contributions to Restore Our Future make him the second biggest contributor, next to Bob Perry.

Lee Ainslie, the other hedge fund manager that helped spark Booker’s career, has given $100,000 to Romney’s Super PAC.

Booker also serves on the Board of Advisers of the education advocacy organization Democrats For Education Reform (DFER), a group that has in the past advocated that charter schools fund political campaigns out of their per-pupil budget in order to advance education privatization. DFER’s board is packed with both private equity executives and hedge fund managers.