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A divide of donors in Senate contest

Finance areas back Brown; law, college sectors favor Warren

Senator Brown’s support from the financial industry appears to reflect how much the sector does <i>not</i> want Elizabeth Warren in the Senate.AP/File

Senator Scott Brown’s largest financial supporters are a who’s who of finance and business, while his political challenger, Elizabeth Warren, has drawn support primarily from universities, law firms, and left-leaning political groups, according to an analysis of federal filings.

The contrast is sharp in the most expensive Senate race in the country, reflecting donors’ view of Brown as an advocate for investment firms, analysts say, and Warren as a former cop on the Wall Street beat.

On the eve of the release of the next round of fund-raising numbers, the analysis of filings to the Federal Elections Commission shows that, so far, employees of the Boston mutual fund giant Fidelity Investments are, together, Brown’s biggest source of support. They have given $264,675, according to the FEC data, which was compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics. After Fidelity are the employees of EMC Corp., the Hopkinton computer-storage company; Springfield’s Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Co.; and Goldman Sachs & Co.

“While in his pronouncements he stresses his independence, the pattern of his support is clearly one in keeping with Republican officeholders,’’ said Paul Watanabe, a professor of political science at the University of Massachusetts Boston. Donors are hoping for “a reliable Republican vote on most matters that will be important to them,’’ he said.


But Brown’s support from the financial industry — about $5.5 million, or 28 percent of the $19.5 million he has raised in total — also appears to reflect how much the sector does not want Warren in the Senate.

The Harvard Law School professor entered the race vowing to fight Wall Street and the big banks on behalf of consumers. She made no friends in the banking world while head of the Congressional Oversight Panel for the federal bailout fund, the Troubled Asset Relief Program, amid the financial crisis. And ultimately, President Obama did not name her head of the consumer bureau she started because there was too much opposition in the Senate.


“These contributions are more likely to be an expression of the sectors’ opposition to Warren’s past policy positions,’’ said Michael J. Malbin, a professor of political science at the University at Albany, SUNY, in an e-mail.

Brown promotes himself as bipartisan, and one of only a few Republicans to vote in favor of the Dodd-Frank financial overhaul bill — although critics say he later tried to weaken a key rule to appease the financial industry. His campaign says the fact that he broke ranks with his party to support Wall Street reform shows, “he’s an independent thinker who does what he thinks is in the best interest of the people he represents,’’ according to spokeswoman Alleigh Marre.

Warren has raised some money from the financial sector — $700,842 from finance, insurance, and real estate firms, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a Washington group that tracks money in politics. The sum is a sliver of the $28.3 million total she has reaped so far. And although she fashions herself as an advocate for Main Street, the largest business sector backing Warren is lawyers and lobbyists, at $1.4 million, or about 5 percent of her total, with supporting coming from two law firms: Brown Rudnick, and Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo.

Warren gets significant support from Emily’s List, which solicits donations from around the country to elect pro-choice, Democratic women candidates to public office. The group gave $343,508 to her campaign, followed by her colleagues at Harvard University, who gave $169,421.


Other Warren donors include MoveOn.org, the liberal political action committee, and schools such as the University of California and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The Warren camp has suggested that Brown is an advocate for Wall Street, and his allegiances will be to the financial firms funding his campaign.

But Malbin, the professor, argues that donors’ dollars tend to reward a candidates’ past actions, more than predicting future ones. “The fact that the financial and insurance industries favor Brown does not necessarily mean that Brown is beholden to them,’’ he said.

Brown’s biggest local source of donations, Fidelity, is often battling new regulations and keeping an eye on legislation affecting its interests. Individual employees gave all but $10,000 of the $264,675 Brown raised from the mutual fund firm.

“We encourage our employees to be engaged in the political process and support any candidates of their choice,” said Fidelity spokesman Vin Loporchio.

The other $10,000 came from the company’s political action committee, which Loporchio said is bipartisan and supports candidates “who understand our industry and who share our views on business issues central to the firm, our customers and our clients.”

EMC, Brown’s second largest source of funds, also gave $10,000 from its PAC, with the rest of the $155,150 coming from individual employees. Brown last year quoted the company in one of his press releases citing its support for a bill he cosponsored on consumer energy use.


Beth Healy can be reached at bhealy@globe.com.