Money, it is said, is the mother's milk of politics. Now, it is
clear that large amounts of political money are coming from mothers.
The top political action committee was Emily's List, a group
dedicated to electing women Democrats who favor abortion rights.
Emily is an acronym for "early money is like yeast" (which helps
The PAC not only raised $13.6 million, but its members
separately were the largest group of contributors to federal
Just a decade ago, groups such as Emily's List were only a
gleam in the eyes of a few people who today call themselves the
"founding mothers" of the women's political finance effort.
Emily's List, which was founded in 1986, has grown from about
3,500 donors in 1990 to more than 60,000 today.
As Emily's List has prospered, similar groups have come onto
the scene and grown quickly. Impressed by such success, Hillary
Rodham Clinton encouraged the Democratic Party to create the
Women's Leadership Forum to raise money. She was the headline
attraction at 27 events sponsored by the forum, bringing in $11
million. That is nearly twice the amount of money raised from
Asian-Americans by former Democratic Party official John Huang,
whose actions have drawn so much scrutiny.
"There has been a psychological shift where women realize they
can take control of their resources," said Ellen Malcolm, president
and founder of Emily's List. "It used to be that women said, `I
have to ask my husband.' "
Despite this success, recent headlines about women donors have
focused on a decision by the Hollywood Women's Political Committee
to shut its doors. The committee, which has worked closely with
major donors such as actresses Barbra Streisand and Jane Fonda,
announced recently that it will go out of business on June 30
because its members are fed up with the current campaign finance
"We will no longer collaborate with a system that promotes the
buying and selling of political office," the Hollywood group
But despite the Hollywood group's star power - Streisand, for
example, has headlined million-dollar galas for President Clinton -
the group itself raised only $1.4 million in the last campaign, far
less than the top women's groups. The Hollywood committee has
contributed about $6 mill ion since its inception in 1984, just
half the amount that Emily's List collected in the last campaign
To be sure, politics remains largely a man's world. Only nine
of 100 US senators are women, as are about 12 percent of U.S. House
members. And that is after a marked increase in recent years.
But all those soccer Mom stories had a point: More women voted
than men in the presidential election. …