Marriott or Hyatt: Wealthy Hotel Chains and Their Favored Presidential Candidates

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has come under scrutiny for his service on the board of Marriott International during a time when the company paid millions to settle charges of taking kickbacks and cheating clients. Given the close relationship Romney has to the Marriott family (Romney’s father was a close friend of the hotel chain’s founder J. Willard Marriott), it is not surprising that the Marriott family, the company’s PAC and its executives have given heavily to Romney over the years.

  • Over his career, Romney has received at least $1.2 million from Marriott interests, according to Public Campaign Action Fund’s analysis of data provided by the Center for Responsive Politics and the National Institute on Money in State Politics.
  • Most of this amount comes from two $500,000 contributions made in June 2011 to the Romney-aligned super PAC Restore Our Future, $500,000 each from Marriott’s CEO J.W. Marriott, Jr. and his brother Richard E. Marriott, head of Host Hotels & Resorts. At the end of January, the next campaign finance report filed by this super PAC could reveal even more contributions from these deep-pocket donors.
  • Since 1989, Marriott interests have contributed about $8.7 million to state and federal campaigns.

President Obama also has friends in the hotel industry. Penny Pritzker, founder and chair of Classic Residence of Hyatt and daughter to the co-founder of the Hyatt hotel chain, was the national finance chair for Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign. As a major bundler for Obama, she raised $215,020 for his 2008 campaign. Obama has also received about $139,479 from Hyatt interests over his career, while Romney has only received $2,525. That parallels how little Marriott campaign money Obama has received ($62,940).

I wonder where Romney and Obama stay when they travel.