WASHINGTON – Away from the public glare, prominent Indian-Americans supporting Republican White House hopeful Mitt Romney are believed to have raised between USD 15-20 million for his presidential campaign. While Romney campaign has not released any fundraising statistics from ethnic coalitions nor has it made public the list of its bundlers or exclusive Stars and Stripes members, the list of big donors include over 200 prominent Indian Americans.
The ‘Indian-American Coalition’ was established in November 2011 by the Romney Campaign National Finance Committee Chairman Spencer Zwick to recognise not only the individual donor, but also the larger community under a group identity. There have been other ethnic coalitions in the Romney campaign’s Finance Committee such as Jewish American coalition, Women’s coalition, Veteran’s Coalition, etc.
By conservative estimates Indian-Americans supporters of Romney believed to have collectively helped raise between USD 15-20 million for his campaign, according to those familiar with the fundraising efforts. “An Indian American coalition in a Presidential Campaign’s National Finance Committee is new and historic. Such a decision of the Romney Campaign has produced the desired results,” Indian American supporters of 65-year-old former governor of Massachusetts say.
Some of the prominent Indian-American bundlers/Star and Stripes members include Sampat Shivangi from Mississippi, Sudhakar Shenoy and Shreedhar Pottarazu from Virginia, Zach Zachariah, Akshay Desai and R Vijaynagar from Florida, Bharat Barai from Indiana, Rupesh Sreevastava and Raj Vatticutti from Michigan. “Everyone has contributed funds, bundled money or held an event that has raised a minimum USD one million,” Sue Ghosh Stricklett, Stars & Stripes Member, Romney Finance Committee, told PTI during a conference call with top Indian-American donors.
“They are unanimously supporting Mitt Romney for President because they believe that the country is on the wrong track and that their children’s economic future is at stake. They are also appalled by the incendiary anti-India rhetoric coming out of the Obama campaign with numerous ads attacking India for loss of American jobs due to outsourcing,” Ghosh said.
One of the influential Republicans from Utah, Patel joined the Romney Campaign after John Huntsman, the former State Governor and US Ambassador to China, helped raise more than a USD 1 million during the campaign. “Republicans are much closer to India than the Democratic party. Romney would be much better president towards India,” said Sampat Shivangi, who was one of the three Indian American delegate to the Republican National Convention and a major fund raiser in Mississippi.
“In 2008, Indiana went to Obama, but it is not going to happen in 2012,” said Raju Chintala; a big time Republican from Indiana and a bundler. “I can vouch for the fact that Mitt Romney is very appreciative of the immense contributions of Indian-Americans to American society. I can also assert that Governor Romney views India as a strategic partner of the United States and that he believes a close working relationship between the two countries is critical to peace and prosperity in Asia,” Ghosh said.
An active member of the Indian-American Coalition, Ghosh, said that the intention of the Romney campaign is to get the coalition going and then use the coalition into “dollar tracking” that can translate into an effective policy making during the Romney Administration so that this community has a voice. “The voice of this group would count in a big way, because they have something more to say than any other American business. This is our objective,” she said.