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In S&P suit, Obama biting hand that fed him?

by Kathy Kiely and Bill Allison

Maybe it's proof that money can't buy you love:  President Barack Obama's administration is widely reported to be about to take Standard & Poor's to court, despite the fact that employees of the credit rating agency and its corporate parent, McGraw-Hill, have disproportionately favored Democrats in recent election cycles.

At issue: whether S&P helped fuel the nation's financial woes by giving overly upbeat ratings to shaky mortgage securities. 

Sunlight's Influence Explorer shows Obama as the top recipient of contributions from S&P employees, followed by Secretary of State John Kerry, who just left the Senate and once ran for president. Last year, Obama got more than $6,000 in contributions from S&Pers.

While lobbying records indicate that S&P has not had a presence on Capitol Hill since 2009, McGraw-Hill has a large one: Influence Explorer shows the financial publishing house spending more than $15 million to influence Congress over the last two decades with a stable of top gun lobbyists, including Tony Podesta, whose brother John served as former President Bill Clinton's chief of staff and headed Obama's transition planning when he first won the White House.

Harold McGraw 3d, the CEO of McGraw-Hill, co-hosted a March 2012 fundraiser for Mitt Romney's presidential campaign, an invitation in Party Time shows, but did not make a contribution himlelf. He did give Romney's 2008 campaign $2,300. McGraw's brother Robert, a company veteran who sits on the board of directors and runs his own investment firm, Averdale Holdings, gave $5,000 to the Romney Victory Fund. Neither brother is a prolific donor: Harold has given a little more than $60,000 since 1996, splitting his money fairly evenly between the parties, slightly favoring Democrats than Republicans. Robert's sole contribution appears to be the $5,000 he gave to Mitt Romney.

On the other hand, S&P gave Republicans plenty of ammo to use against the president as he was beginning his reelection campaign. The ratings agency made global headlines in 2011 when it downgraded the U.S. government's credit rating -- the only one of the major credit agencies to do so.