Talk of the bay: Banks extend rivalry to race for president

By Times Staff
Published December 27, 2007

Rivals in their hometown of Charlotte, N.C., and in the business of banking, employees at Bank of America Corp. and Wachovia Corp. also have different picks for president. According to the Associated Press, the favorite among political donors working at Bank of America is Democrat Barack Obama. Meanwhile, just down the street at Wachovia, Republican John McCain got the most checks. Former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards is an also-ran at both of the behemoth banks, institutions that also happen to dominate the Florida banking market. Bank of America employees and their spouses have given about $253,980 to Democrats, or about 62 percent of the contributions from bank employees. About 57 percent of donations from Wachovia staffers, worth about $134,800, have gone to GOP candidates. Bank of America CEO Ken Lewis, who gave money to Bush in 2004, has not donated in this election cycle, finance data indicate. Wachovia CEO Ken Thompson and wife Kathylee gave $2,300 each to Sen. McCain.

No counterattack in stun-gun market

Stun-gun maker Taser International recently introduced a sleek new civilian model for women, but don't expect Tampa competitor Stinger Systems to do the same any time soon. Stinger CEO Robert Gruder told Newsweek that while company officials had considered expanding beyond their core military/police market, they worried about the potential for negligence. That may not be all they are concerned about. Stinger still is fighting a pesky patent-infringement lawsuit that Taser filed against it this year.

State calls Scripps boon to economy

Four years ago, the state Legislature lured the Scripps Research Institute here with $310-million in federal funds. And the Legislature, being the epitome of responsible spending, wants to make sure it's getting its money's worth. The state estimates that Scripps, in a temporary headquarters on the Florida Atlantic University's Jupiter campus, this year has had a $230-million impact on the local economy: $162-million in construction, $68-million in salaries, equipment and services. That's according to a report this month by the Scripps Florida Funding Corp., the state board that monitors the bioscience firm. Much of that alleged economic impact can't be directly proved. Scripps has about 220 employees, but the state report estimates it is responsible for creating 2,090 other jobs, the Palm Beach Post reports.