More than $4 billion: That’s how much experts anticipate have been spent trying to win your vote. It’s the most expensive election in U.S. history. With the Supreme Court ruling on Citizens United in 2010, the floodgates opened, allowing outside groups to spend record amounts: more than $970 million for this election cycle alone. Who exactly spent this kind of money may surprise you. Election spending doesn’t just come from hedge-fund managers and people with big family fortunes anymore. It’s an eclectic group: a 21-year-old college student is spending his inheritance on his own conservative super PAC, a man with a species of monkey named for him, an expert in heirloom plants, a speech recognition expert who spends his free time playing with model trains in his basement. Check out these fascinating people and the nonprofits that placed a big bet on this election.
Donors spent record amounts on Super PACs, which are legally allowed to raise and spend unlimited amounts as long as they don’t donate directly to the candidate or coordinate with their campaigns. Corporations, individuals, unions, and associations can all contribute. Donors are disclosed to the FEC.
Fred Eychaner$12,000,000Newsweb Corporation
James H. Simons$7,575,000Renaissance Technologies
Amy Goldman$3,400,000Solil Management
Steve Mostyn$3,203,850Mostyn Law Firm
Jeffrey Katzenberg$3,150,000DreamWorks Animation SKG
Irwin M. Jacobs$2,300,000Qualcomm Inc
Jon Stryker$2,250,000Arcus Foundation
Anne Cox Chambers$2,100,000Cox Enterprises
S. Donald Sussman$1,350,000Paloma Partners
Sheldon & Miriam Adelson$53,066,147Las Vegas Sands/Adelson Drug Clinic
Harold & Annette Simmons$23,840,000Contran Corp
Robert J. Perry$23,840,000Perry Homes
Peter A. Thiel$4,735,000Clarium Capital Management
Jerrold A. Perenchio$4,100,000Chartwell Partners
Robert L. Mercer$4,039,354Renaissance Technologies
John Childs$3,375,000JW Childs Assoc.
Foster Friess$2,521,744Friess Assoc.
William Dore$2,300,000Dore Energy
Bundlers These are some of the presidential candidates’ $1 million-plus bundlers. Bundlers are people who, after giving their personal contribution limit, then ask friends for checks which they can give to candidates in one big “bundle.”
Jeffrey Katzenberg$2,334,092DreamWorks Animation SKG
Lisa and Doug Goldman$1,579,368Certain Software, Inc.
Jay Snyder$1,462,137HBJ Investments
Wayne Jordan$1,431,353Jordan Real Estate Investments
Michael Sacks$1,266,361Grosvenor Capital Management
Stewart Bainum$1,248,965Choice Hotels International
Fred Eychaner$1,220,550Newsweb Corporation
Jane Stetson$1,197,426Democratic National Committee
David and Rhonda Cohen$1,152,431Comcast Corp.
Bill Graves$1,677,850American Trucking Assoc.
David Beightol$1,280,961Dutko Wordlwide
Dirk W. Van Dongen$1,189,834National Assoc. of Wholesale Distributors
Patrick J. Durkin$1,111,790Barclay’s Capital
501(c)(4) and 501(c)(6) groups Known as “shadow” or “dark” money groups because they are not required to disclose who funds them, these organizations spent record amounts on ads, “non-political” activities and “issue advocacy” which are not clearly defined but generally relate to promoting specific candidates in the election.
Planned Parenthood Action Fund$8,505,345
League of Conservation Voters$6,781,119
Patriot Majority USA$5,848,360
NARAL Pro-Choice America$1,122,920
National Wildlife Federation Association$277,931
Human Rights Campaign$48,523
Americans for Prosperity$33,157,383
U.S. Chamber of Commerce$25,900,056
American Future Fund$8,937,171
Americans for Job Security$8,878,339
Americans for Tax Reform$7,582,145
American Action Network$4,761,684
Republican Jewish Coalition$4,593,548
NRA Institute for Legislation Action$3,891,144
American Energy Alliance$845,116
Source: Center for Responsive Politics, Federal Election Commission, CNN Money | Data current as of October 25, 2012