While the outcome of the 2012 election is still up in the air, the nation's accountants are putting their money behind a candidate many of them hope will change Washington -- Republican Mitt Romney.
A new Accounting Today analysis of the latest reports filed with the Federal Election Commission found that the former Massachusetts governor is outdrawing President Barack Obama in donations from accountants by nearly a four to one margin.
Romney has collected more than $735,000 from accountants at major CPA firms, other industry professionals and PACs organized by the Big Four. In contrast, President Obama's campaign received just under $204,000.
Accounting has traditionally backed Republicans over Democrats in national campaigns by a 2:1 margin, but its fundraisers took a significantly more balanced approach in 2008, when support for GOP candidates from the major firms slipped to 59 percent, and in 2010, when it slipped to 56 percent.
FOCUS ON CONGRESS
By September, PACs sponsored by accounting firms had already raised more than $10 million for this year's congressional elections, and had already paid out almost $5.5 million to House and Senate candidates. At press time, with more than six weeks to go -- and a collective war chest of more than $3 million in reserve -- accounting fundraisers were on track to exceed the record $6,296,257 paid out to congressional candidates in 2010.
GOP candidates for the House and Senate have received 65 percent of the money spent by industry PACs this year. Firm PACs made donations averaging more than $15,000 each to 233 Republican House candidates. Of the more than $5.1 million contributed to House campaigns this year, $3.5 million (69 percent) went to GOP candidates.
The 158 Democrats who received support from accountants in this year's House elections received smaller average donations (just over $10,000 each), and a much smaller total ($1,596,982) - less than half the support paid out to House Democrats by accounting industry PACs just two years ago.
With Democrats still in control of the Senate, however, the accounting fundraisers targeted the bulk of their campaign aid to Democratic Senate candidates. Of the $1.3 million contributed to Senate campaigns, 57 percent (over $738,000) was earmarked for Democrats. The 37 Senate Democrats receiving CPA contributions collected an average of nearly $20,000 each. A total of 32 Republican hopefuls received an average of $17,552.
TRACKING THE PACS
Accounting Today's exclusive analysis shows how the profession's PACs break down entering the home stretch of this year's campaign:
• Deloitte. The industry's most active political fundraising group, Deloitte's PAC raised $2.5 million and has contributed a whopping $1.6 million. Over 68 percent ($1.1 million) has gone to Republican candidates. Romney received just over $248,000 from Deloitte accountants and others affiliated with the firm, while Obama collected almost $105,000. The firm's PAC has more than $750,000 on hand for the campaign homestretch.
• PricewaterhouseCoopers. PwC's PAC raised more than $2,653,000 for 2012 - the most of any accounting political group. It has paid out almost $1.4 million to federal candidates so far, with 71 percent ($973,500) going to GOP candidates. PwC's PAC and its accountants were even more lopsided in presidential contributions, with Obama receiving less than $40,000 (14 percent of the total) compared to over $251,000 for Romney. At the start of September, the PAC had a war chest of almost $600,000 on hand.
• Ernst & Young. This group raised over $2.1 million, and so far has contributed more than $811,000 to federal candidates. GOP campaigns are collecting 65 percent of that ($524,000). E&Y's PAC and others associated with the firm gave Romney the edge by a 4:1 margin, for a total of more than $134,000, versus only $34,000 to Obama. The PAC still has more than $1.3 million to splash around.
• KPMG. Of the more than $1.4 million raised by this PAC, $800,000 has already been donated to federal candidates, split 39 percent to Democrats ($314,000) and 61 percent to Republicans ($487,000). In the presidential campaign, KPMG and its personnel have contributed more than $82,000 so far, with 72 percent going to Romney. It still had another $1.4 million in PAC money on hand.
• American Institute of CPAs. AICPA fundraisers assembled more than $1 million since the last election, and contributed over $672,000 to congressional candidates in 2012. More than 46 percent of its contributions have gone to congressional Democrats ($311,000 total), with the rest channeled to Republicans. The PAC made no contributions in this year's presidential contest, but has over $1.4 million in its war chest.
• Grant Thornton. Of the more than $391,000 raised by Grant's PAC, $153,000 has been donated to federal candidates, with better than 69 percent (over $105,000) earmarked for Republicans. At last check, the PAC had nearly $190,000 on hand.
• And the rest. The PAC sponsored by Reznick Group collected over $56,000 in 2012, donated $39,500 to Republicans, and still has over $61,000 in reserve. The National Society of Accountants raised more than $30,000, paid out $4,500 (all to Republicans), and has almost $200,000 in reserve. Padgett, Stratemann raised $7,575, donated $2,500 (60 percent to Democrats), and has more than $25,000 left. And Moss Adams' PAC raised $5,000 this cycle, contributed it all to GOP candidates, and has over $17,000 left.