Buying of the President

Published — August 3, 2015 Updated — October 6, 2015 at 4:50 pm ET

Can Joe Biden raise enough money to be a contender?

Vice president reportedly considering presidential run


If Vice President Joe Biden decides to mount a 2016 presidential bid, his chances will rest heavily on his ability to raise enormous sums of money, something that he has not exactly excelled at in previous races.

When Biden ran for president in 2008, for example, he raised about $8.6 million before dropping out, following a poor performance in Iowa. That didn’t cut it then, and it surely won’t in 2016. Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton has raised $45 million since declaring her candidacy in April.

Whether there are enough uncommitted, deep-pocketed Democrats out there to fund a Biden bid is an open question. However, one consolation for Biden as he mulls a third White House run: many of his previous donors are keeping their financial powder dry.

Only one of the top 30 individual donors to Biden’s three most recent campaigns has given to the campaign of a 2016 Democratic White House contender, according to a Center for Public Integrity analysis of federal campaign finance data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics.

Los Angeles doctor Howard Mandel gave $2,700 to the campaign of former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley — but also contributed $5,000 to Draft Biden 2016, a super PAC formed in March by those who hope Biden will run. Mandel could not immediately be reached for comment.

(Update, Aug. 4, 2015, 2:28 p.m.: Interviewed by phone, Mandel praised O’Malley, but said given the opportunity, he would support Biden.

“He would make an amazing president, and I think he would be great for the American people and actually bring us together,” Mandel said.

Mandel said he hasn’t spoken to Biden about a bid and is avoiding doing so since he is now working with the Draft Biden 2016 super PAC. Mandel will be hosting an event next week in West Hollywood, California, to raise money for Draft Biden 2016, he said, adding he already had received more than 40 RSVPs.

“We need an alternative,” he said, “and I think we need to not have a coronation.”)

The New York Times reported Saturday that the 72-year-old vice president and his associates have begun to explore a possible bid, a report that has seriously ratcheted up speculation that Clinton may face some real competition for the nomination.

Baltimore Orioles owner Peter Angelos, a noted Clinton supporter in 2008, is also a fan of Biden’s. His law offices are on the list of Biden’s top career contributors, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

But so far, Angelos has not contributed to Clinton’s 2016 campaign, federal filings indicate. He did contribute $500,000 during the 2012 election cycle to Priorities USA Action, a super PAC that backed President Barack Obama’s re-election bid which is now raising money to support Clinton’s bid.

Angelos has not made a contribution to the group so far this cycle, according to federal campaign finance disclosure filings. Angelos could not immediately be reached for comment.

A review of Draft Biden 2016’s filings shows at least one new contributor has popped up to support a possible bid by the vice president.

On May 18, Curtis Block, who listed his employer as Madison & Monroe, gave $5,000. Florida records show Madison & Monroe didn’t exist until June 2, and the incorporation paperwork filed with the state lists what appears to be a virtual mailbox — a service that scans and forwards mail — as its address.

On June 12 — 10 days later — Madison & Monroe gave another $38,000, making the mysterious new company and Block together responsible for half of the money raised by Draft Biden 2016.

Draft Biden 2016, which recently added to its ranks a close adviser to Biden’s late son Beau, has so far raised only about $86,000 through June 30.

Block could not be reached for comment. Sarah Ford, a spokeswoman for Draft Biden 2016, said today she would need more time to respond to a request for comment from the Center for Public Integrity.

This story was co-published with Huffington Post.

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