WASHINGTON — Financial services firms ratcheted up their campaign contributions by $101 million this fall to hit a record $195 million for the 1999-2000 election cycle, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

“The financial services industry is painfully aware of how close this election is, so they are fiercely going after every vote,” said Steve Bartlett, president of the Financial Services Roundtable.

The figures were compiled by the Center, a nonpartisan group that tracks political giving, from Federal Election Commission data. The latest data are current through Oct. 1.

A majority, 61%, of industry donations have gone to Republican presidential and congressional candidates.

Within the banking sector, commercial banks and their trade groups had given Republicans 66% of their $15.7 million of campaign donations. They were led by Bank of America, which had contributed $1.2 million, and the American Bankers Association, which had given $1.16 million.

Finance and credit companies had contributed $5.8 million, with 71% going to the GOP. The sector’s largest donor was MBNA America Bank, which had given $1.9 million.

Mortgage banks had contributed $5.3 million, with 58% going to Republicans. Freddie Mac had given candidates $1.6 million, and Fannie Mae had donated $1.3 million.

Of the $1.56 million in contributions from thrifts, 53% had gone to Republicans. The top thrift contribution came from the group’s trade organization, America’s Community Bankers, which had given $474,491. The largest savings and loan company donation was $182,914 from Washington Mutual.

Republicans had received 55% of the $1.5 million in credit union donations, again led by trade associations. The Credit Union National Association had given $1.17 million and the National Association of Federal Credit Unions $96,700. The largest credit union contribution was from the Orange County Teachers’ Credit Union, which gave $21,500.

Securities and insurance firms remained the most generous campaign contributors within the financial services industry, giving $57.8 million and $30.38 million, respectively. Securities firms had given 59% of their money to Republicans, and insurance companies 64%.

Contributions were $50 million from real estate companies, $10.6 million from accounting firms, and $5.2 million from venture capital firms. — Michele Heller

Go to www.americanbanker.com Wednesday morning for overnight election results from House and Senate races of interest to the financial services industry.

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