When it comes to exploring a run for president, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty is counting heavily on the interests of out-of-state residents, especially investment bankers.

About 58 percent of the nearly $566,000 contributed in the first three months of this year to Pawlenty's Freedom First political action committee came from people living outside Minnesota, according to Federal Election Commission reports filed Thursday.

At the top of the list are officers of Citadel Investment Group of Chicago, a major hedge fund manager.

Employees of Morgan Stanley, which helps the state of Minnesota manage government employee pensions, also gave money. Pawlenty sits on the board that oversees the pensions.

Citadel wouldn't say why more than a dozen of its top officers gave nearly $50,000 to Pawlenty's PAC -- about 9 percent of the money it brought in.

"We have no comment," said company spokeswoman Devon Spurgeon. "I don't normally comment on any of our contributions."

Citadel officers have been major contributors to politicians around the country over the years, giving $64,000 in the current election cycle to individual candidates and party units for Republicans and Democrats, separate from the money given to Pawlenty's PAC.

Citadel's founder and CEO Kenneth Griffin and chief operating officer Gerald Beeson, both of the Chicago area, led the way as company contributors to Pawlenty's PAC with $5,000 contributions each.

Morgan Stanley investment bankers and a financial adviser gave another $7,000, according to FEC filings. They include William Strong of Lake Forest, Ill., who has been a top executive.

Morgan Stanley and Morgan Stanley & Co. earned more than $700,000 last year in commissions managing stocks for the Minnesota State Board of Investment, which oversees Minnesota government pension funds. Pawlenty sits on the Board of Investment with Attorney General Lori Swanson, Auditor Rebecca Otto and Secretary of State Mark Ritchie.

Pawlenty's political spokesman, Alex Conant, said Thursday that contributions from officers of a firm involved with state pensions posed no conflict of interest.

Other finance executives who contributed to Pawlenty's PAC included U.S. Bancorp executive Richard Davis of Minneapolis, who gave $5,000.

Fundraising efforts by members of Congress were also reported to the FEC Thursday.

In one of Minnesota's most-watched congressional races, Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann raised $810,000 in the first three months of the year, surpassing the total of her two DFL rivals put together in the Sixth Congressional District race.

State Sen. Tarryl Clark, the DFL-endorsed candidate, reported $505,000 in the same period. Another DFLer, physician Maureen Reed, raised $204,000, though she also announced Thursday that she is lending her campaign an additional $250,000.

Reed's move is evidence that she is not leaving the race against Bachmann, despite losing the DFL endorsement late last month. Reed's campaign manager, Jason Isaacson, said her loan "levels the playing field between Maureen and her Democratic challenger." Clark has taken in a total of $1.1 million.

Democrats are expected to top the $3 million they spent in an unsuccessful effort to unseat Bachmann in 2008. Combined with Bachmann's $3.5 million, that race turned into one of the most expensive in the nation.

In another competitive race, the First District, DFL incumbent Tim Walz said Thursday that his campaign has raised more than $314,000 in the most recent quarter and has a significant cash advantage with nearly $600,000 in reserves.

pdoyle@startribune.com 651-222-1210 eric.roper@startribune.com 202-408-2723