NEW YORK - Two years before the first campaign rally is scheduled, or the first opponent declared, New York State Comptroller H. Carl McCall has collected almost $1 million in contributions.
The list of contributors includes several firms that manage money for the $76 billion New York State and Local Retirement Systems, of which Mr. McCall is the sole trustee. Also included are firms that also manage assets for the $54 billion New York State Teachers' Retirement System, where Mr. McCall has a representative on the board of trustees.
According to financial disclosure reports filed with the New York State Board of Elections, the McCall '98 committee received $404,530 in contributions from January 1996 through July. That was in addition to the $412,089 it had received by the end of 1995.
Among the largest contributions, Aldrich Eastman Waltch, a Boston firm that recently was terminated as a mortgage manager for the New York State and Local fund, gave the campaign a bundled contribution from its officers that totaled $13,450 Feb. 2; firm officials would not comment.
Buy-out fund manager Thomas H. Lee, whose firm received a $125 million commitment to its LBO fund from the state fund last year, gave $10,000 Jan. 10. Columbia Partners L.L.C., Washington, which does not manage assets for the state funds, gave $5,000 Jan. 30.
The campaign also received donations from New Amsterdam Partners L.P., Montgomery Asset Management, Copley Real Estate Advisors, Pilgrim Baxter & Associates and Woodford Gayed Capital Management Inc., all of which manage assets for the state funds.
Other contributors - Williams Capital Group, Hotchkis and Wiley and State Street Bank & Trust Co. - don't manage state pension fund money.
Executives of some money management firms that also don't run state pension assets contributed to Mr. McCall's coffers: Tere Canida and Alan Habacht, partners of Taplin, Canida & Habacht, Miami; Albert Sturdivant, chairman of Sturdivant & Co., Clementon, N.J.; and Ray Dalio, president of The Bridgewater Group, Wilton, Conn.
Marx Cazenave, president of Progress Investment Management Co., San Francisco, and Edwin Callan, chairman of consulting firm Callan Associates and a co-founder of Progress, each gave $2,000 June 7. Mr. Callan and Mr. Cazenave also contributed $2,500 and $5,000, respectively, in October 1995, along with Clayton Jue, Progress' chief investment officer and Thurman White, the firm's chief operating officer, who gave $1,000 and $1,500 respectively, also in October 1995.
Progress, which manages a now $116 million fund-of-funds for the New York State and Local systems, received an additional allocation of $50 million in March and was hired in August for a $100 million domestic equity allocation for the New York State Teachers' Retirement System.
Messrs. Cazenave and Jue were traveling and could not be reached. Mr. Callan said he has sometimes contributed to campaigns alongside Mr. Cazenave, who has been active in the Democratic Party and in raising funds for Democratic candidates, both minority and non-minority.
Mr. McCall "is the kind of politician we support," Mr. Callan said.
Among the $539,225 Mr. McCall's campaign already had received between July 1995 and January 1996, were donations from Lord Abbett & Co., New York; Brinson Partners Inc., Chicago; Paradigm Asset Management Corp., New York, and Brown Capital Management, New York, which manage money for the New York State and Local fund. The campaign also received donations from firms which don't manage investments for the fund, including Equinox Investments and Hyperion Capital Management Inc., both of New York.
Among the individuals contributing during that time, Leonard Harlan and John Castle, partners in the private equity firm Castle Harlan Inc., New York, which doesn't manage investments for the state fund, gave $5,000 and $10,000, respectively. Wayne Stork, chairman of Delaware Asset Management, gave $3,000; and Alan Patricof, chairman of private equity firm Patricof & Co., gave $2,500; both firms are on New York State's manager roster.
All of the managers contacted refused to comment about their contributions, but some McCall supporters among them said there is nothing out of the ordinary in an incumbent politician raising funds early. Incumbents often find themselves raising funds even after an election in order to retire their campaign debts, but the tactic also tends to be used as a pre-emptive strike against potential opponents.
The campaign is neither raising too much money nor too early, said George Arzt, a spokesman for Mr. McCall's campaign. He noted Mr. McCall's 1994 run cost $3 million.
"Campaigns cost a lot of money. It's unfortunate, but it's a fact," said Mr. Arzt.
That many of the contributors are money managers and brokers who do business with the comptroller's office is not a conflict of interests because all are hired though a competitive bidding process, said Mr. Arzt. He added Mr. McCall has long supported adopting public financing of campaigns to remove any appearance of conflict of interests.
Mr. McCall's supporters note a minority politician can't always count on raising money from the same sources that another candidate could tap, so African-American candidates such as Mr. McCall tend to seek out contributions from minority-owned businesses, like financial services firms.
At the recent conference of the National Association of Securities Professionals, Mr. McCall noted his support for emerging managers programs and his office's commitment to hiring minority- and women-owned firms (Pensions & Investments, July 8).
"Carl has a network of friends through the country, people who are very familiar with him and his record, and those are the people who are likely to contribute to his campaign," said Mr. Arzt.
When it comes to a future run, the comptroller appeared to be leaving his options open. Mr. McCall's fund-raising organization changed its name from the McCall for Comptroller '94 Committee to simply McCall '98. That feeds into speculation that Mr. McCall, the state's highest Democratic elected official, is considering a run against Republican Gov. George Pataki in 1998.
Mr. McCall "has a lot of options and hasn't yet decided what he'll do in 1998," said Mr. Arzt.