Buying Democracy: Super PACs Got 25% of Their Cash From Just Five Billionaire Donors
In the immortal words of California's Jesse "Big Daddy" Unruh, "Money is the mother's milk of politics." This year, billionaire donors have turned it into cream. Just five of the ultra-wealthy have contributed a fourth of all the money received by Super PACs that are having a powerful impact on the elections.
Individuals are limited to $2500 direct contributions to a candidate's campaign. But there is no limit on contributions to Super PACS. These aren't supposed to coordinate with the campaigns, but that is a joke.
By far the most generous contributor is Harold Simmons of Texas, though he has not played favorites during this election cycle. He gave more than $1 million to Rick Perry's super PAC last year (before he dropped out of the race), threw $500,000 to Newt Gingrich in December, quickly pivoted with a $100,000 check to the pro-Mitt Romney Restore Our Future PAC, then went back to Gingrich with another $500,000 check. Perhaps he got confused by the names of the competing PACs — Restore Our Future (Romney) versus Winning the Future (Gingrich). Or as some have pointed out, anyone giving money to Gingrich at this point is really supporting Romney, since Newt's refusal to quit actually undermines Rick Santorum's chances.
During the 2008 election, Simmons donated $2.9 million to fund an ad linking Barack Obama with a former leader of Weather Underground, William Ayers.
As Joan McCarter wrote earlier this month, "looking at these numbers, you don't have to wonder who's future and destiny they're talking about, who is going to be made great again under a Republican president. A hint: It wouldn't to be the 99 percent."