BOBBY HARRISON: Barbour’s lobby background cultivates political donations

By Bobby Harrison/NEMS Daily Journal

JACKSON – Fox News and its parent-company, News Corp., made news instead of reporting it recently when it was revealed that the company gave a whopping $1 million donation to the Republican Governors Association.
Reports are that the RGA is far outpacing its Democratic counterpart in fundraising. The $1 million from News Corp. contributes to the overall success of the Republican governors in raising money.
The News Corp. donation and the overall success of the fundraising of the Republican governors should not be of any surprise.
After all, look who is in charge of the Republican Governors Association – Mississippi’s own Haley Barbour. Barbour is chair of the group.
The Republican governor of Mississippi has demonstrated time and again his ability to collect campaign contributions.
As has been reported many times, when he ran against incumbent Democratic Gov. Ronnie Musgrove in 2003, he shattered all fundraising records for Mississippi.
Before 2003, Ray Mabus and Kirk Fordice had broken the $3 million mark in campaign contributions. In 2003, Barbour raised more than $11 million. In his losing effort, Musgrove also broke the fundraising marks set by Fordice and Mabus, but still garnered roughly half of what Barbour did.
Barbour has taken campaign fundraising to another level in Mississippi.
Before he ran for governor in 2003, he already was a successful fundraiser on the national level as chair of the Republican National Committee in the mid 1990s. It is well documented that before he was RNC chair he worked in the Reagan White House as political director and after his stint as RNC chair he became one of Washington’s most successful lobbyists. Part of what he did in that job was raise campaign contributions – including for George W. Bush’s successful campaign for the presidency in 2000.
Barbour has been politically connected most of his life. He attended the University of Mississippi from the fall of 1965 until the spring of 1969, but did not obtain a bachelor’s degree, opting to take a job running the U.S. Census in Mississippi instead of returning to school to get his final required hours. He later got his law degree from Ole Miss.
He got the Census job at least partially because he had worked for the Richard Nixon campaign in 1968.
As RNC chair, Barbour is credited with taking the craft of so-called “soft money” contributions – money donated to a party and not an individual – to new heights.
Barbour has been successful raising money for his own candidacy and for other Republican candidates.
Roger Ailes is president of Fox News. Ailes was a media consultant for Ronald Reagan, Richard Nixon and George H.W. Bush.
It makes sense that Ailes and Barbour go way back since both worked for Reagan and Nixon.
It also makes sense that as chair of the RGA, Barbour could use those ties to garner the contribution from Fox’s parent company.
That is not a surprise.
And it should not be a surprise when Barbour is a major player in 2012 raising money for Republicans – particularly for a Republican presidential candidate.
The only unknown is whether Barbour will be raising money for himself or for some other candidate.
In a recent interview, Barbour explained that it might be advantageous for a president to have a lobbying background because it might help him get his programs through Congress.
Haley Barbour’s statements and actions seem more and more like those of a person planning to run for president. Of course, at this point, it is easier to make plans to run for president then opt out, than it would be to not make plans and later decide to run.
In the meantime, Barbour will continue to raise money.

Contact Bobby Harrison, the Daily Journal’s Capitol Bureau Chief at or call (601) 353-3119.

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