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Second Brown committee lures financial sector funds

Financial sector donates heavily

A joint committee with the National Republican Senatorial Committee is helping fund Senator Scott Brown’s bid.

US Senator Scott Brown, who played a critical role in the battle over the 2010 financial regulatory overhaul, has used a joint fund-raising committee to collect $2.9 million in political donations over the last year, nearly half of which came from the nation’s financial sector.

A Globe analysis of the money raised by this joint committee, which was launched without fanfare or publicity in March 2011, indicates that this sector’s deep reservoir of support for the Republican senator extends far beyond the contributions made to his campaign committee.

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The Scott Brown Victory Committee, a joint venture between the senator and the National Republican Senatorial Committee, can receive donations of up to $30,800 per donor each election cycle, compared with the $5,000 limit for regular campaign committees. According to the reports, Brown receives about 15 percent of the funds, while the Republican senatorial committee receives the rest.

The joint committee’s reports are replete with generous donations from deep-pocketed venture capitalists, bankers, and leaders of some of the country’s largest investment firms who are eager to see Brown defeat his likely Democratic challenger, Elizabeth Warren, a consumer advocate. Their donations totaled $1.275 million or 44 percent of the total raised by the committee through the end of March.

With the boost from the financial sector, the Scott Brown Victory Committee ranked fourth in the list of similar arrangements among Washington’s most powerful leaders last year, with total fund-raising through December of $1.848 million. Only joint committees led by President Obama, House Speaker John Boehner, and Republican majority leader Eric Cantor outpaced Brown’s efforts, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

During the first three months of this year, the joint committee accelerated its fund-raising, bringing in $1.06 million, of which more than 50 percent came from the securities and investment sector.

Warren has a joint fund-raising agreement with the Democratic senatorial committee, but it has collected only $26,050 and had a balance of $11,538 on March 31.

Brown’s spokesman, Colin Reed, said Brown’s fund-raising is no different than that of Obama, Warren, US Senator John F. Kerry, and the Massachusetts congressional delegation. He also said that Brown was the critical vote that allowed Democrats to pass the Dodd-Frank Reform Act, which included Warren’s proposed Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection.

“Scott Brown was the tie-breaking vote in favor of the same bill that Elizabeth Warren called the ‘strongest set of financial reforms in three generations,’ ’’ he said in a statement to the Globe.

The race between Warren and Brown, who put himself in the middle of the fight over the Dodd-Frank reforms, has become a critical contest for the securities and investment sector, which strongly opposes Democratic efforts to impose stricter regulations on its industry.

Brown delivered for Wall Street in the battle over Dodd-Frank when he extracted a pro-industry concession from the Democratic majority: the elimination from the bill of a proposed $19 billion tax on banks, money which would have been used for part of the regulatory overhaul. He also championed a provision that curbed restrictions on certain investment activities by banks and insurance companies.

During the campaign, Warren has frequently noted Brown’s strong support from within the securities and investment community as evidence of his allegiance to corporations rather than everyday voters. She, in turn, is looked at with antipathy by the corporate world because of her consumer advocacy.

With Warren’s entry into the race the last September, donations to Brown’s campaign committee from the financial industry have surged.

In the special election in January 2010, the financial sector represented only 4 percent of his total contributions to Brown’s US Senate campaign committee. In 2011, that number rose to about 7 percent of the total raised by his campaign committee, or just over $900,000, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

During the first quarter of this year, a full 13 percent of what he raised came from the financial industry. He collected another $431,000 for his Senate campaign committee during those months from that sector, according to a Globe review of Brown’s latest quarterly filings.

Although he arrived in Washington only a little more than two years ago, the donations Brown received through his campaign committee alone last year earned him a spot among the top recipients of money from the financial sector on Capitol Hill. The center ranks him third, behind Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, the New York Democrat who represents Wall Street, and Boehner.

“That’s a lot of money coming from one sector,’’ said Bob Biersack, senior fellow at the Center for Responsive Politics, referring to Brown’s dual fund-raising operations. He said Brown’s upset victory in 2010 put him in position to be a player in the Senate. With the financial sector keenly interested in which party controls the Senate, Brown has parlayed that role into an effective fund-raising operation, Biersack said.

“They are focused on what is happening in Washington more than they ever have,’’ Biersack said. “Winning that seat made Brown unusually important in lots of contexts, most notably health care and financial regulations.’’

Under law, the National Republican Senatorial Committee cannot use the money it receives from the joint committee to directly donate to Brown’s campaign, but it can make unlimited ‘’independent expenditures’’ such as party building and get-out-the-vote drives in Massachusetts to support his candidacy.

The agreement by Warren and Brown to bar outside groups from launching advertising attacks only covers media campaigns, not the ground operations and party-building efforts that the Republican and Democratic senatorial campaigns committees can orchestrate in states around the country.

Warren collected $126,950 from securities and investment sources in her first 3 1/2 months of fund-raising last year when she collected a total of $5.7 million. An early analysis of her contributions for the first quarter of this year was not possible because her $6.9 million in contributions ran 6,000 pages.

Brown’s donor lists on both committees are heavily laden with leading Massachusetts and national financial executives.

Four executives at TA Associates, the Boston venture capital firm, donated $100,800 to the Victory committee in the first three months of this year, including its chief executive, Kevin Landry, who gave $30,000. The Egan family, the heirs to EMC Corp. who now use their fortune as investors, donated $60,000. His campaign received more than $82,900 since the beginning of last year in donations from Fidelity executives, including its chief executive officer, Edward C. Johnson.

Brown’s connections to Wall Street and the Manhattan financial world were evident last month when his campaign fund-raising team referred to a special finance group for New York. Brown’s private fund-raising schedule for this past winter listed a March 12 event as an “Evening Reception with New York City Finance Committee.’’

His campaign committee reports spending $3,000 for a reception at The Lamb Club, an upscale restaurant at West 44th St., during the first two weeks of March. Half the payment was made March 1. The second check was written on March 12.

Frank Phillips can be reached at phillips@globe.com.
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