$3.4 Billion: 12 Megadonors Gave One in Every $13 Since Supreme Court’s Citizen United Decision

A new study found that just a dozen megadonors and their partners are responsible for $1 in every $13 in political donations since the 2010 Supreme Court Citizens United decision, The New York Times reports.

The analysis from the nonpartisan advocacy group Issue One found that six Democrats and six Republicans and their spouses have given $3.4 billion to federal candidates and political groups since the Supreme Court allowed unlimited spending from outside groups in elections.

“This is a stark illustration of our broken campaign finance system,” Nick Penniman, the founder of Issue One, told The Times. “Today, a handful of megadonors wield outsized influence in our politics.”

Penniman urged Congress to “pass sweeping reforms to create a democracy that works for everyone.”

Bloomberg tops list:

Former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg topped the list with $1.4 billion in political spending, $1 billion of which went toward his failed 2020 presidential campaign. Bloomberg is the only donor to spend over $1 billion.

Former 2020 presidential contender Tom Steyer is second with $653 million in contributions between him and his wife, though half went toward his own campaign.
The late casino mogul Sheldon Adelson and his wife have given $523 million to GOP candidates since 2019.

Other top Republican donors include Uline shipping moguls Dick and Liz Uihlein ($138 million), Citadel founder Ken Griffin ($107 million), Mellon heirs Timothy and Patricia Mellon ($70 million), T.D. Ameritrade Founder Joe Rickets and wife Marlene ($66 million), and Elliott Management founder Paul Singer ($63 million).

Other top Democrats include Paloma Funds founder Donald Sussman ($98 million), Renaissance Technologies founder Jim Simons ($93 million), media mogul Fred Eychaner ($92 million) and Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz ($83 million).

Spending is even higher than report shows:

The totals only represent donations to federal campaigns or political groups. The numbers do not include donations to state-level candidates or nonprofit groups that do not have to disclose their donors.

In recent years, online fundraising platforms like ActBlue and WinRed have allowed small-dollar donors to boost campaigns on both sides.

But the study shows that political spending is still dominated by a select few wealthy individuals.

The study found that less than 1% of the US population accounted for about 20% of the $45 billion federal candidates and groups raised between 2009 and 2020.

“Some of the top ZIP codes for giving weren’t even populated by any people at all,” the Times reported, “instead, they were primarily associated with skyscrapers and post office boxes that were used as business addresses by the wealthy.”


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