The third largest contributor to Democrat Tim Kaine's U.S. Senate campaign is Bain Capital, the venture capital firm formerly led by Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney and a target of relentless attacks by a key Kaine ally, President Obama.
Since last year and as recently as March, Kaine accepted the maximum contributions allowed under federal election law from some of Bain Capital's top executives, a review of Kaine's campaign finance records shows.
Bain Capital employees have so far given $30,000 to Kaine, trailing only the League of Conservation Voters ($38,068) and politically connected law firm McGuireWoods LLP ($32,100) as his top campaign contributors, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, which tracks campaign contributions.
Obama has consistently ripped Bain Capital and Romney for laying off workers at companies the venture capital firm purchased, hoping to undercut Romney's claim that his experience creating jobs in the private sector qualified him to deal with the nation's economic problems.
But Kaine, a friend of Obama who served as Democratic National Committee chairman during the president's first year in office, never joined in the president's denunciations of the firm.
A Kaine spokeswoman said the Bain contributions were solely an indictor that Kaine was a pro-business Democrat.
"Gov. Kaine believes all businesses deserve the opportunity to grow and succeed," Brandi Hoffine said. "He is proud of his pro-business record as governor and the support he's receiving from the business community in this campaign."
Kaine's reluctance to join in that particular attack on Romney leaves Obama without much support to make his case in must-win Virginia that Romney is not the job creator he claims to be.
In that sense, Kaine was much closer to his political mentor, Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., whose claim that Bain is a "very success business" was used by Republicans to blunt Obama's attacks on Romney.
Kaine took his first contributions from Bain Capital executives just two months after announcing his bid for the U.S. Senate last year. Bain managing director Steve Pagliuca and executive Joshua Bekenstein were among the earliest supporters of Kaine's campaign, helping to bring in $10,000 from Bain employees in June 2011, according to campaign finance records. Members of Bekenstein's family are listed as contributing another $10,000.
Another of Kaine's Bain contributors, Jonathan Levine, is also a big-time contribution bundler for Obama and was identified by ABC News as someone closely involved in layoffs and the eventual bankruptcy of an Indiana paper company highlighted in an Obama ad.
Kaine, a former governor, has raised $8.7 million for his high-profile election match up against another former governor, Republican George Allen. Bain Capital is the eighth largest campaign donor to federal candidates this election cycle and it heavily favors Democrats. For every $1 Bain gave Republicans, it gave $3 to Democrats.
Bain has not donated to Allen's campaign. Allen's top contributors include McGuireWoods LLP, Virginia-based power company Dominion Resources and Koch Industries, headed by billionaire conservative businessmen David and Charles Koch.
Allen declined to comment for this story.