58 donors responsible for 80% of SuperPAC funding

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33 Responses to “58 donors responsible for 80% of SuperPAC funding”

  1. mccrum says:

    I’m willing to bet serious money that Stephen Colbert’s PAC is the most diverse.

  2. uildaan says:

    I’d guess that most of them threw vast amounts of money at both sides as well

  3. Bass says:

    What is it about the Democrats that causes them to receive so little in donations?  Why do they not have any SuperPACs? 

    • Cory Doctorow says:

      I suspect the three main reasons, in descending order of importance, are:

      1. GOP are tipped to win many upcoming elections, so better to buy politicians from that side of the house

      2. Long-term, powerful Dems (committee chairs, etc) have longstanding, deep relationships with groups opposed to corporate agenda and may be less willing to sell out the country to corporate interests

      3. Theoretically, the Dems are politically aligned with rights for people more than corporations, and some of its lawmakers (and the party power-brokers who helped them get their nominations) are unlikely to do what the SuperPACs’ wealthy backers would like them to do

      • davidasposted says:

        2. Long-term, powerful Dems (committee chairs, etc) have longstanding, deep relationships with groups opposed to corporate agenda and may be less willing to sell out the country to corporate interests.

        This statement is simply not true, nor is the general perception that Democratic Congressmen are less corporate-friendly than Republican Congressmen. Information about corporate donations to public officials in the U.S. has been easily accessible for decades and a number of non-profit organizations, e.g. the Center for Responsive Politics (among others) have made it even more so.

        To use your example, feel free to access the link below and check out corporate donations made to Democratic committee chairs in the Senate (which they currently control) and compare them with more recent Congressmen of either party:

        http://www.opensecrets.org/cmteprofiles/

  4. Lobster says:

    You know what would be awesome?  If anyone with a net worth over $500,000 couldn’t run for public office.

    • Or set the filing fee to be one third of the portion of the candidate’s net worth above a certain amount. Then use that revenue to fund 100% of all campaigns nationwide.

    • mccrum says:

      That would work but their wives (or husbands) would suddenly be the millionaires of the family as many homes were sold for a dollar and much money was given away by corporations to various “charity” organizations with those spouses as the “chair.”

      “I’m not worth half a million, here are my tax records!”
      “Senator, what about your wife?”
      “I don’t know what her financial records show and she’s not the one running.”

      I hate to be so cynical but the corporations and politicians are the ones gaming the system like this already.  I think the only people worth voting into office are the people who don’t want to go.

    • Tom says:

      Who are you to tell me who I can and can not vote for?

      You want to elect poor people, who will be even more beholden to monied interests because they don’t have a store of wealth to fall back on. They wouldn’t be able to take a moral stand on ANY issue without fear of losing their job.

      • mccrum says:

        Seriously?   Because all the people in Congress are currently taking moral stands on things?  Because $500,000 a year is considered “poor” in your words?

      • xian says:

        While the net worth of $500,000 thing is probably a very bad idea (anyone who owns a multi-family house is close to that mark right there), your belief that having money gives you a moral standing is quite honestly the most disgusting thing I’ve read in a long time. Hopefully I misunderstood your point…

        But I like the sentiment of Lobsters post – we need campaign reform. How about we start by eliminating PACs altogether?

    • Antinous / Moderator says:

      You know what would be awesome? If anyone with a net worth over $500,000 couldn’t run for public office.

      You know who else had a net worth of less than $500,000 (adjusted)?

  5. MRKiscaden says:

    The monied interests have more than enough capital to play both sides.  Just look at any candidate’s campaign contributors or their voting record. Both parties are bought and managed by the “1%”. Conservative spending is a bit higher right now because there is a GOP primary going on. Once the 2012 election gets under way we will see both sides spending rampantly. To imply the Democrats are being outspent at this time is disingenuous.

    • Layne says:

      Interesting article and points. 

      Also worth calling out that unions are only briefly mentioned in the article. That can’t possibly scratch the surface of the financial influence they wield. There are hundreds of millions of dollars contributed to candidates from public and private sector unions, which are arguably tilted to a Democratic base. Are these contributions more or less virtuous than the money coming in from a PAC? 

      Not trolling… Just funny that when a bunch of people band together to contribute money, fine lines are selected as to what might make the intentions of one group more or less praiseworthy than the other. And the idea that an industry would only choose to contribute to one side in a 50/50 contest result is unlikely. 

      The problem doesn’t seem to be that there’s money in politics – the problem is that we’re allowing so many parts of society to be dominated by government. The minute they skirt the law and draft up an agency to “regulate” some industry – anyone with influence is going to try and game that system. 

      • Antinous / Moderator says:

        Also worth calling out that unions are only briefly mentioned in the article. That can’t possibly scratch the surface of the financial influence they wield.

        How about giving a credible citation with some numbers in it? Because otherwise, you appear to be stating a religious belief.

      • Brainspore says:

        …unions are only briefly mentioned in the article.

        Perhaps discussion of unions doesn’t make up a large percentage of this article because “2″ is not a large percentage of “58.”

      • jimh says:

        The problem doesn’t seem to be that there’s money in politics – the problem is that we’re allowing so many parts of society to be dominated by government. The minute they skirt the law and draft up an agency to “regulate” some industry – anyone with influence is going to try and game that system.

        No, the problem is that our government is under corporate control, and it’s all about the money. If you think further deregulation is the answer, you have not been paying attention to the catastrophic financial failures that have been a direct result of no one minding the store.

        Of course people are going to try to game the system, why would you expect otherwise!? You have to have anti-trust laws, and other watchdog legislation to prevent it. You have to limit the impact of corporate lobbies and cronyism. And you have to send people who break the law to jail and take away their money. Paltry fines are not a teaching tool when the net result of breaking the law is a huge profit.

        You can’t have your free market utopia, because it’s a myth.

  6. Brainspore says:

    Every so often I hear someone say that the working class could put together the biggest campaign spending warchest of all if they just got organized. Then I shake my head for the state of math education in this country.

    • John Irvine says:

      They are called unions, and they do donate a lot.  And when 58 people donate 80% of SuperPAC dollars, keep in mind that the union money (so often derided by conservatives) represents millions of hardworking Americans.

      • Brainspore says:

        A lot compared to what any individual working class person could spend, a pittance compared to the people actually running the country can spend.

        Unions can be useful tools for bringing political influence to the poor but as long as the wealth gap keeps widening the working class will never be able to compete on the national stage, at least in terms of campaign funding. Of those 58 donors only two were unions, almost all the rest were really rich white guys.

      • MRKiscaden says:

        The same argument could be made by money contributed by corporations. A corporation is not an individual, but an entity made up of thousands of individuals.  With both Unions and Corporations, those deciding how the money is spent does not reflect the views of its members/employees.

        While campaign contributions are effectively legalized bribery, it is only half the problem. The other half is the politicians who take the money and do the bidding of their benefactors.

        • Brainspore says:

          A corporation is not an individual, but an entity made up of thousands of individuals.  With both Unions and Corporations, those deciding how the money is spent does not reflect the views of its members/employees.

          In the case of Unions it’s at least supposed to. Corporations may be made up of thousands of individuals, but the people who get to vote on policy are vastly outnumbered by those who don’t.

  7. kballweg says:

    One of the better sites to track the reality of this is OpenSecrets.org. 

    http://www.opensecrets.org/orgs/list.php?order=A
    Historically Dems have had significant union contributions, and conservatives point to that as the justification for the Supreme’s money=speech decision. The problem with looking at historical cumulative data is that what was and what will be given the neo-cons demonization of public sector unions, and the new rules for unlimited contributions through Super-pacs is yet to be seen. 

    The fact is that the monied fight better over the long haul than the ever-so-less-monied. And progress in terms of eliminating the “Fairness Doctrine” (hello Fox News), finding end runs around campaign finance restrictions, marginalizing unions, and the crafting of gerrymandering have entrenched a really hated congress. Of the Myopic, by the Myopic, for the Myopic as someone recently pointed out.

    But it’s really the use of brilliant, consistent  propaganda to consolidate special interests (guns, god, greed and indirect revival of segregation) under a tent that elects congress critters who blatantly vote against the financial interests of people holding those special interests while making a show of serving them. In the process we are turning into a nation of paranoid mass of people who vote on gut fear instead of real information.

  8. steveplustax says:

    Hey, I thought Russia was meant to be the only country doing the whole “oligarchy” thing. Well, I guess we followed their lead after Sputnik, and that all worked out pretty, er… let me get back to you on that one.

  9. Matt Drew says:

    Sigh. The Supreme Court did not “turn money into speech”, they nullified a bad law that censored speech by attacking how the speech was accomplished … exactly like the SOPA bill that Boing Boing has recently been campaigning against. I find the cognitive dissonance of railing against one while simultaneously supporting the other to be truly … refreshing.

    People have a right to speak, especially about politics. It doesn’t matter how they are organized, or if the government favors that organization, if you don’t like the speech, or if they are rich, or if they speak a lot, or if there’s a “fair” amount of speech or not. People have a right to speak. That’s what these people are doing … speaking.

    • Brainspore says:

      Question: if one party can spend a gazillion dollars and buy all available airtime to the exclusion of their opponent, do both parties still enjoy “free speech?”

    • Steven Barrett says:

      PEOPLE do. A Corporation is not people. You can try to make the argument that it is a group of people representing all the people they employ…but it is wrong. When large corporations lobby for things they sure as hell are not taking the interests of their common worker into consideration.

      If they did…we wouldn’t need things like Unions. Which, by the way, are often times as bad as the Corporations they fight against.

    • atimoshenko says:

      Everyone does have a right to speak. This is why people should not have a right to speak so loudly that no one’s voice but theirs is heard.

      When the First Amendment was drafted, the Founding Fathers could not imagine that it would be possible for one individual to speak in such a way as to completely impede the speech of everyone else.

      Today we have found a way. When a tiny group of individuals own almost all of the nation’s wealth, money as speech would certainly violate the spirit of the First Amendment, even if it does not violate the letter

  10. Greg Jarmiolowski says:

    Regardless of how much money is spent, it all still comes down to votes, which are made by individual citizens. The corporations and unions cannot vote but they can use money to spread any message they desire.

    What is wrong with this? Is it just the amount of money that now makes it seem vulgar?

    Well then ask yourself why would someone spend millions to influence an election. Is it not in the hope of becoming closer to power? And if that power is now worth millions and millions has not that power become vulgar?

    • Brainspore says:

      Regardless of how much money is spent, it all still comes down to votes, which are made by individual citizens.

      Citizens vote based on the information they have and that information may be biased, incomplete or inaccurate. Control the media and you control the information. Control the information and you control the vote.

      Not to mention the fact that it takes a lot of money to get any candidate or issue on the ballot in the first place. At best we get to choose between the options that the wealthiest donors find most acceptable.

      • Greg Jarmiolowski says:

        Who is this “media” that someone can control to make me ignorant enough to vote the way they want? We live in the information age and your point of view seems dated to me.

        Also these PAC donations are not being used to get people on the ballot. All that takes is some signatures and in some states a small fee. Getting an “issue” on the ballot is totally separate b/c it is not considered electoral politics and in my view it is a bad idea ( see California).

        Also, FYI, there is no “complete” information.

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