Keeping an eye on political donations

Nicole Stempak says 10 KSU employees have given money to election

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Credit: DKS Editors

Ten current or retired Kent State employees have donated more than $11,500 to the 2008 election, according to, the Web site of the Center for Responsive Politics, is a nonprofit and nonpartisan group that tracks the money financing U.S. elections and its impact on public policy, said Massie Ritsch, communications director.

The education industry has contributed more than $19 million to the presidential candidates, ranking third for Sen. Barack Obama, according to the Web site.

Of that total, Obama has received slightly more than $10 million. Sen. John McCain received slightly more than $1 million. Other money donated went to Hillary Clinton and other candidates.

Susan Stocker, dean of Ashtabula Campus, said she thinks academia has a heightened awareness of politics.

“I think that professors or members of the faculty tend to be more informed about political matters and maybe feel more passionately about issues that are important to them and therefore contribute money to these candidates,” she said.

Steven Hook, chair of the political science department, said he is not shocked by the discrepancy between the donations to the candidates.

“I think one level of educators tend to be in an economic class that is more receptive to the policies embraced by the Democratic Party,” he said. “Also, educators tend to favor higher funding for education than is currently provided.

“This is a position that is more often shared by the Democratic Party rather than the Republican Party, especially when it comes to public education.”

Ritsch said college professors are stereotyped as Democrats, so it makes sense they would donate more to Obama.

“He’s certainly popular on college campuses with students,” he said. “Apparently, he’s also popular with their teachers.”

Stocker said being politically active is more difficult because of her job title. Still, she said she identifies with policies rather than parties.

“I’m still trying to set an example that we need to be politically active,” she said. “I actually contribute to both campaigns in both parties based on their voting records and their platforms.” collects its data from the campaigns. Ritsch said they must report information to the government each month for donations more than $200. Campaigns must provide the contributor’s name, donation, address, occupation, employer and date of donation.

“Through automation and human effort, our researchers categorize donors by industry,” he said. “If they see someone who works at Kent State, they categorize that as education. If they see someone who works at ExxonMobil, they categorize that as oil/production.”

Figures are based on data released Sept. 2.

Contact student politics reporter Nicole Stempak at [email protected].