Dozen Megadonors Account for Nearly 1 of Every 13 Dollars Raised Since 2009

April 20, 2021 by Dan McCue

A dozen top megadonors — at least eight of whom are billionaires — have pumped a combined $3.4 billion dollars into federal elections since 2009, according to new research by Issue One, a nonpartisan group working to curtail the influence of money in politics.

Based on data provided by the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics, the Issue One analysis suggests these 12 individuals account for $1 out of every $13 raised by federal candidates between Jan. 2009 and Dec. 2020.

“This research shows the alarming influence of just a handful of wealthy megadonors in our political system,” said Issue One Founder and CEO Nick Penniman. “Our government can’t be responsive to all Americans if our elected officials are beholden to the elite donor class.” 

The study found that the biggest donor was former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who spent $1.4 billion. More than $1 billion of that went to his failed 2020 presidential campaign, while the remaining $314 million went to a slate of candidates and other groups involved in federal races.

Tom Steyer, another failed 2020 Democratic presidential contender, gave the second most money along with his wife, together spending $653 million. About $342 million of that went to his presidential bid.

The late Sheldon Adelson and his wife Miriam were the third biggest donors overall, and the largest for Republicans. Combined they spent $523 million on federal races

Rounding out the list of 12 were Richard and Elizabeth Uihlein, Ken Griffin, Timothy and Patricia Mellon, Joe and Marlene Ricketts, and Paul Singer, all of whom typically gave to Republicans; and Donald Sussman, Jim and Marilyn Simons, Fred Eychaner, and Dustin Moskovitz and his wife Cari Tuna, who tended to support Democrats.

The study showed money flowed to federal candidates and political party committees like the

Democratic National Committee and Republican National Committee, as well as to super PACs, which, unlike candidates and political parties, are legally allowed to accept contributions of unlimited amounts.

It also found that the big-money contributions were geographically concentrated. The top 100 zip codes for political giving accounted for less than 1% of the country’s population but about 20% of federal donations since restrictions were lifted by the Supreme Court in 2009. 

“Americans are losing faith in our democratic institutions,” said Issue One Executive Director Meredith McGehee. “They see political gridlock and a broken campaign finance system that gives undue influence to billionaires and millionaires across the political spectrum, while the vast majority of ordinary citizens lack a seat at the table. Congress must urgently act to restrain the growing influence of money in our politics and build a system that truly represents all Americans, not just the wealthy few.”

In The News

Health

Voting

Campaign Finance

Dozen Megadonors Account for Nearly 1 of Every 13 Dollars Raised Since 2009
Campaign Finance
Dozen Megadonors Account for Nearly 1 of Every 13 Dollars Raised Since 2009
April 20, 2021
by Dan McCue

A dozen top megadonors — at least eight of whom are billionaires — have pumped a combined $3.4 billion dollars into federal elections since 2009, according to new research by Issue One, a nonpartisan group working to curtail the influence of money in politics. Based on... Read More

House Democrats Campaign Arm Raised $11.5 Million in February
Campaign Finance
House Democrats Campaign Arm Raised $11.5 Million in February
March 19, 2021
by TWN Staff

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee raised over $11.5 million in February, far surpassing the organization's previous record for the most raised in February of a midterm election cycle. In a brief statement released Friday morning, the DCCC said the average online donation was just $16.  In a... Read More

Grassroots Donors Spark $7 Million Mid-Winter Harvest for Democrats
Campaign Finance
Grassroots Donors Spark $7 Million Mid-Winter Harvest for Democrats
February 19, 2021
by TWN Staff

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Commitee revealed Friday that it raised $7 million in January due to robust grassroots support, the hard work of House Democrats and the leadership of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. The DCCC’s January fundraising was anchored by $5.4 million from grassroots donors who contributed... Read More

Sheldon Adelson, Casino Mogul and GOP Power Broker, Dies
Political News
Sheldon Adelson, Casino Mogul and GOP Power Broker, Dies

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Sheldon Adelson, founder, chairman and CEO of Las Vegas Sands, has passed away at the age of 87 from complications related to treatment for non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma , the casino company announced Tuesday. At one point the third richest man in the world,... Read More

Pelosi, Democrats Renew Push to Overhaul Election, Campaign Finance Laws
Congress
Pelosi, Democrats Renew Push to Overhaul Election, Campaign Finance Laws

WASHINGTON — Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Monday she would press ahead early next year with a campaign finance and elections overhaul, even as the measure may face the same Senate fate it did this Congress: doom. House Democrats passed their signature overhaul measure in March 2019 and dubbed it HR 1, indicating its priority. Senate... Read More

How a Super PAC Helped House Republicans Survive the 'Green Wave'
2020 Elections
How a Super PAC Helped House Republicans Survive the 'Green Wave'

WASHINGTON — Unlike in 2018, this year's "green wave" of Democratic money didn't produce a "blue wave" of victories, thanks in part to a super PAC that helped Republicans close the spending gap. Congressional Leadership Fund, a group aligned with House GOP leadership, spent more than $140 million, a record for... Read More

News From The Well
scroll top