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

The 2008 presidential election was the most expensive on record, but this year's contest promises to break that record, due in part to the new rules of political fundraising.

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Edward is a retired managing director at Bain Capital, and Jill is a former comedy writer who  previously worked for David Letterman. They are prominent Romney supporters, as they were in 2008. In August, following complaints from election watchdogs,  Edward revealed that he was behind a mysterious $1 million donation, given by a previously unheard-of company called W Spann, to the Romney super-PAC Restore Our Future. 

Total giving for 2012 race: $1,005,000
• Giving to outside-spending groups: $1,000,000
• Giving to candidates and parties: $5,000

10. FRED EYCHANER (CHICAGO)

This reclusive media mogul is a major Democratic fundraiser. A former reporter,  he runs the Newsweb Corporation, which publishes alternative and ethnic newspapers. In 2002, he made more than $420 million selling a TV station to Rupert Murdoch. A  2005 Chicago Tribuneprofile reported that he "drives a 1999 Ford Escort, flies coach, owns just three suits and sometimes stays at budget motels." In the 2012 election cycle, Eychaner has given $500,000 to the pro-Obama super-PAC Priorities USA Action, $100,000 to the House Majority PAC, $100,000 to the Democratic Governors Association, and $50,000 to the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund. 

Total giving for 2012 race: $791,800
• Giving to outside-spending groups: $750,000
• Giving to candidates and parties: $41,800

11. J.W. AND DONNA MARRIOTT (BETHESDA, MARYLAND)

For the past four decades, J.W. "Bill" Marriott Jr. has served as CEO of Marriott International, the hotel franchise and property management company founded by his father. (In December 2011  he announced his intention to step down.) He is  reportedly worth $1.3 billion. His brother, Richard, is also in the hotel business and is a major political donor.  Bill chairs the President's Export Council, which advises the executive branch on national and global trade. In the 2012 election cycle, he and his wife, Donna, have donated $500,000 to the pro-Romney super-PAC Restore Our Future.
Total giving for 2012 race: $657,687
• Giving to outside-spending groups: $510,000
• Giving to candidates and parties: $147,687

12. JOHN AND JOSEPHINE TEMPLETON (BRYN MAWR, PENNSYLVANIA)
 
John heads the John Templeton Foundation, a nonprofit focused on answering "the Big Questions of human purpose." ( Critics say it seeks to lend scientific legitimacy to matters of faith.) The foundation was started by his late father,  Sir John, a mutual fund billionaire. In 2009 it reportedly had $1.7 billion in assets. In the 2012 election cycle, John and his wife, Josephine, have donated $232,000 to the College Republican National Committee, $200,000 to the anti-Obama super-PAC Raising Red, $100,000 to Rove's American Crossroads, $55,000 to the Republican Governors Association, and $5,000 to Rick Santorum. Bonus: Charles Koch named them as part a  list of elite donors who have pledged $1 million to his and his brother David's conservative fundraising machine. 
 
Total giving for 2012 race: $633,000
• Giving to outside-spending groups: $597,000
• Giving to candidates and parties: $36,000
 
13. LOUIS MOORE BACON (NEW YORK CITY) 
 
Worth a reported $1.7 billion, the media-shy founder of Moore Capital Management has a reputation as one of the world's  top hedge fund traders. In the 2012 election cycle, Bacon has given $500,000 to the pro-Romney Restore Our Future.
 
Total giving for 2012 race: $580,300
• Giving to outside-spending groups: $500,000
• Giving to candidates and parties: $80,300
 
14. RICHARD AND NANCY MARRIOTT
 
Richard has  split his father's hotel-industry fortune with his brother Bill. Worth a reported $1.4 billion, Richard runs Host Hotels, the world's biggest lodging investment trust. In the 2012 cycle, Richard and his wife, Nancy, have given  $500,000 to Restore Our Future. 
 
Total giving for 2012 race: $556,200
• Giving to outside-spending groups: $510,000
• Giving to candidates and parties: $46,200
 
15. JIM AND ANNE DAVIS (NEWTON, MASSACHUSETTS)
The Davises serve as chair and vice chair, respectively, of the New Balance shoe company.  Reportedly worth $1.8 billion, Jim is one of the  founders of Major League Lacrosse and is a major donor to collegiate athletics programs. In the 2012 election cycle, he has given to  $500,000to the pro-Romney Restore Our Future.  New Balance has issued a letterexplaining that Davis' donation to Restore Our Future "was a private donation and not a contribution from New Balance" and distanced the company from Romney's stance against gay marriage. 
 
Total giving for 2012 race: $542,300
• Giving to outside-spending groups: $500,000
• Giving to candidates and parties: $42,300
 
16. STEPHEN BING (LOS ANGELES)
 
Bing is a film producer ( Shine a Light), script writer ( Kangaroo Jack), and the founder of Shangri-La Music. He  inherited a $600 million real estate fortune when he turned 18. Described as one of Bill Clinton's  "best friends," Bing has donated millions to the Clinton Global Initiative and paid $200,000 to fly the former president to North Korea to bring home two detained American journalists in 2009. Bing was worth an estimated $590 million in 2009; a movie producer  told the Daily Beast that he "treats money as if there are no consequences to losing it." A major donor to Democratic causes, in the 2012 election cycle he has given $250,000 and $150,000 to the liberal super-PACs Majority PAC and American Bridge 21st Century, respectively. 
 
Total giving for 2012 race: $495,800
• Giving to outside-spending groups: $410,000
• Giving to candidates and parties: $85,800

 17. H. GARY AND RENEE MORSE (THE VILLAGES, FLORIDA)