The 20 Biggest Donors of the 2012 Election (So Far)

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Our friends and colleagues at Mother Jones magazine have been producing some of, if not the best coverage of cash and politics. Their January-February “Dark Money” issue is filled with great reporting on the impact of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision and “the shadowy forces warping our democracy.”

They’ve just come out with their list of “The 20 Biggest Donors of the 2012 Election (So Far),” based on data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics (CRP).

As the magazine reminds readers, “Wealthy donors who have maxed out on their gifts to candidates or just want a lot more bang for their political buck can write massive checks to any of the new super PACs that are popping up as proxies for politicians and parties,” and many of the top contributors are couples who can double their donations or spread them about even more.

Many of the names will be familiar to connoisseurs of campaign cash and the candidates who lust for it: Hollywood’s Jeffrey Katzenberg, CEO of Dreamworks Animation (giving to outside-spending groups: $2,000,000; giving to candidates and parties: $173,100); former Univision head and talent agent Jerry Perenchio (outside-spending groups: $2,000,000; candidates and parties: $128,300); hotel tycoon J.W. “Bill” Marriott Jr, and his wife, Donna (outside-spending groups: $510,000; candidates and parties: $147,687); Jim Davis of New Balance shoes (outside-spending groups: $500,000; candidates and parties: $42,300); and homebuilding magnate Bob Perry, no relation to Rick – he’s a Romney man (outside-spending groups: $3,250,000; candidates and parties: $87,600)

Leading the pack, with giving to outside-spending groups at $5,010,000 and donations to candidates and parties at $214,800 is billionaire archconservative casino mogul Sheldon Adelson. As reported by The New York Times, that five million is going to the pro-Newt Gingrich Winning Our Future super PAC. The Times notes that by Monday morning, Winning Our Future “had reserved more than $3.4 million in advertising time in South Carolina, a huge sum in a state where the airwaves come cheap and the primary is 11 days away. The group is planning to air portions of a movie critical of [Mitt] Romney’s time at Bain Capital, the private equity firm he helped found.

“The last-minute injection underscores how the 2010 landmark Supreme Court ruling on campaign finance has made it possible for a wealthy individual to influence an election. Mr. Adelson’s contribution to the super PAC is 1,000 times the $5,000 he could legally give directly to Mr. Gingrich’s campaign this year.”

Read a fascinating 2008 New Yorker portrait of Adelson, written by Connie Bruck.



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  • Ccarnein

    I think the really big story is the coarsening and crudification (for want of a better word) of America.  The Marines pissing on corpses is the most graphic sign of our decline that I’ve seen in my 68 years.  We’re in for a fast ride to the bottom, unless we have the guts and determination to stop it.

  • Jrl60

    The problems with our economy, lie in the monetary system itself.  No M1 money, (the money that the people, government and businesses use in our everyday transactions), is allowed to be created unless it involves a debt instrument of some sort.  These debt instruments are bank loans
    or treasury bills, notes or bonds.  Money is created when debts are incurred and extinguished when debts are paid back!  Under our current monetary system, if there is no debt, there can be no dollars.

    All money is debt.  Add to this the fact that in the loaning process, no money is created to pay
    the interest on any of the borrowing.  This means that when we are forced to borrow money into existence, we are always creating a debt greater than the amount of debt dollars that are borrowed and then spent into circulation.

    The interest debt on borrowed money has to go into the cost of doing business, which raises the cost of living to the consumers.  As that cost of living keeps going higher and higher, the demands on corporate America for raises in wages continues.  This in turn reduces our ability to compete on the international markets. 

    Think about it!  If you have money in a bank account, investments, retirement funds, etc., etc., you could not have that money unless someone else in the system, has an equal amount of debt, either individually or collectively.

    Our monetary system is nothing more than a legalized ponzi scheme.  Congress must make changes that would allow for a monetary system that creates money as wealth to the people, not one that creates money as an evidence of indebtedness.