Who Owns Your Politicians?

The 2016 elections brought a lot of spending and donations, but what/who are these donors buying with their money?

The 2016 election was quite an interesting one for many reasons, but one thing we do not really hear about is the people who backed the candidates from the top office of the President all the way down to the local offices. Political contributions can be made by individuals or corporations to individual candidates or political parties, but those contributions are limited based upon the donor demographics.

These contribution rules are bypassed by Political Action Committees, or PAC’s. Corporations, Organizations, and Individuals can donate any sum of money to the PAC of their choice and then the PAC will be able to use their donation as they see fit. This loophole, if you will, has been used over and over again by big money donors to support candidates that will advance their causes. But who are these people and organizations and how much are they contributing during the election season?

Top 5 Individual Donors

1. Richard & Elizabeth Uihlein, Lake Forest, IL

Donation Amount: $13,747,400

Political Party Donated To: Republican

Background: Richard and Elizabeth founded the Uline company in 1980, a shipping supplies business. Richard, a Stanford grad (BA), has been a long-time Republican donor, but increased his giving after the landmark Supreme Court case of Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. He has supported large GOP PAC’s, Scott Walker, Ted Cruz and many other conservative organizations.

2. Thomas F. & Kathryn Ann Steyer, San Francisco, CA

Donation Amount: $10,568,197

Political Party Donated To: Democrat

Background: Thomas is a graduate of Yale (BA) and Stanford (MBA), who has worked in the hedge fund industry. He founded Farallon Capital, an investment firm in California, in 1986 and is also a partner with Hellman & Friedman. Steyer hosted a fundraiser in him home in 2012 for President Obama’s re-election and gave a speech at the Democratic Convention that year. He is a big proponent of decreasing the US reliance on fossil fuels and becoming energy independent.

3. S. Donald Sussman, Ft. Lauderdale, FL

Donation Amount: $4,079,200

Political Party Donated To: Democrat

Background: A graduate of New York University (MBA), Donald is the founder of Paloma Funds as well as New China Capital Management LLC. He has been involved in many different hedge funds throughout his career. Sussman is a huge supporter of Hillary Clinton and his company, Paloma Funds, donated more than $21 million to her campaign in 2016. Interesting to note, Paloma Partners received $200 million in taxpayer funds from the 2008 AIG bailout.

4. Robert L. & Diana Mercer, East Setauket, NY

Donation Amount: $3,658,900

Political Party Donated To: Republican

Background: Robert graduated with a PhD in computer science from University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign. He is co-CEO of the hedge fund Renaissance Technologies. Mercer donated data analytics to the leader of the Brexit movement in the U.K., Nigel Farage. He is a big supporter of conservative causes including the 2016 Presidential campaign of Donald Trump. He also had a stake in Breitbart News, which he announced he would be selling to his daughters while stepping down from the top of Renaissance Technologies in November of 2017. He also is part of the Mercer Family Foundation, which invests in conservative causes in the fields of public policy, higher education and science.

5. Steven A. Cohen, Greenwich, CT

Donation Amount: $3,360,800

Political Party Donated To: Republican

Background: Steven is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania (BS) and is the founder of both Point72 Assest Management and S.A.C. Capital Advisors. As a hedge fund manager, he has amassed an estimated $13 billion in net worth. He was implicated in an insider trading suit by the S.E.C., but settled a civil suit out of court. He donated $2 million to the presidential campaign of Chris Christie in 2015.

Noteworthy Individual Contributors:

#11 George Soros - $1.8 million to liberal causes

#25 Charles & Elizabeth Koch - $980k to conservative causes

For more information about individual donors, check out OpenSecrets.org

Top 5 Organization Donors

1. Fahr LLC

Donation Amount: $90,585,670

Political Party Donated To: Democrat

Background: Fahr LLC is an LLC set up by Thomas Steyer. In 2016, the LLC donated the maximum amount to the Hillary Clinton campaign, as well as 41 other democratic candidates in the House and the Senate. The vast majority of the donations was to the NextGen Climate Action Committee, a PAC focusing on environmental policy and civil rights.

2. Renaissance Technologies

Donation Amount: $29,014,508
Political Party Donated To: Democrat

Donation Amount: $25,286,600
Political Party Donated To: Republican

Background: Renaissance is a New York based hedge fund founded in 1982 by James Simons, who ran it until he retired in 2009. Currently, the company is run by Peter Brown and Robert Mercer, while Simons still plays a role in the company. The company had an estimated $65 billion in assets in 2015. The 2016 donations are nearly split 50/50 between conservative and liberal candidates, coming from Mercer and Simons, respectively.

3. Las Vegas Sands

Donation Amount: $44,333,430

Political Party Donated To: Republican

Background: Las Vegas Sands is a casino and resort company for accomodations, gaming and entertainment, restaurants and clubs with locations in the U.S. and Asia, including The Venetian and The Palazzo in Vegas. The company was founded in 1988 by Sheldon Adelson, who is the current Chairman of the Board and CEO. In the 2012 and 2016 elections, 100% of it’s donations went to Republican candidates and causes.

4. Paloma Partners

Donation Amount: $41,958,600

Political Party Donated To: Democrat

Background: Paloma Partners LLC provides security brokerage, investment, and management consultancy services based in Greenwich, CT. Founded by Donald Sussman in 1981, they have given 100% of their contributions to liberal causes, with most of the funds going to Hillary Clinton and Priorities USA PAC (#10 on organization contributions) that supported Clinton. Paloma donated to 99 Democrat candidates in 2016 for President, House and Senate, as well as 1 Republican Presidential candidate, Chris Christie.

5. Service Employees International Union

Donation Amount: $39,200,987

Political Party Donated To: Democrat

Background: S.E.I.U. is a labor union representing approximately 1.9 million workers in the U.S. and Canada. Its members come from 3 different sectors of the workforce: health care, public service, and property services (including janitors, security officers and food service workers). The union is a strong supporter of the Democratic Party, spending $28 million on President Obama’s first election in 2008. S.E.I.U. is a strong supporter of the Affordable Care Act and increasing the minimum wage, especially for fast food workers.

A few noteworthy companies include:

#10, the Soros Fund Management - donated $27.8 million to liberal causes

#33 the Chicago Cubs - donated $13 million to conservative causes

#39 Koch Industries – donated $11 million to conservative causes

#46 Walt Disney Co – donated $2.4 million to liberal causes and $7.7 million to conservative causes

(not ranked) National Rifle Association – donated $1 million to conservative candidates

For more information about Organization contributions, check out OpenSecrets.org

Surprised by any of this? Who owns your politicians? Money doesn’t buy happiness, but it can buy politicians.

Comments
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ThreePatriots
ThreePatriots

Editor

@FelixCulpa I never dismissed their data, so please do not try and put words into my mouth. Do yourself a favor and re-read my comments if you think I disagreed or dismissed their data. All I did was simply state that my facts ARE correct for the information that I used directly from opensecrets.org. If we were talking about total money spent by any person or organization for any reason at any location in an election, it will take a lot more research and likely will be nearly impossible to get a 100% accurate number because of the things you brought up, using PAC's and other ways around the campaign spending laws. But to put it simply, my facts are backed up with the links I provided.

FelixCulpa
FelixCulpa

I should add that direct contribution TO a candidate is only nominally different than spending FOR a candidate. In a two person race it makes little difference if you give John Smith a million dollars, or, to evade direct contribution laws, use your PAC to campaign AGAINST the other candidate. If you want John Smith to win, the difference between giving John Smith money, or spending money as a PAC against Sheila Jones is negligible. It's a legalistic interpretation at best. As Dick the Butcher said in Henry the VI....

ThreePatriots
ThreePatriots

Editor

@FelixCulpa if you follow the link I provided as my source you will see exact numbers donated to political causes and candidates, which I clearly stated multiple times in the article. The NRA only donated approximately $1 million to organizations that support Republican candidates or directly to Republican candidates. This article never discussed any funds that any individual or organization spent on their own for TV ads that supported certain candidates or any other pro-candidate media because it is a different subject that physically giving money to a certain cause. Feel free to distrust all you want, but look at the lists I provided for my source and tell me how I’m wrong.

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