WASHINGTON -- In the age of super PACs, campaign entities that can raise and spend unlimited sums of money, gone are the days when a broad fundraising base was needed to launch a serious campaign.
Instead, candidates can rely on a small group of incredibly wealthy friends, who need only to write the checks for an eager consultant to run political ads. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich's primary campaign underscored both how much damage a super PAC can inflict and how much salvation one can provide. A New York Times report about a prospective $10 million ad campaign to tie President Barack Obama to his fiery former pastor, meanwhile, illustrates how one deep-pocketed donor could shift the balance of a presidential race.
But that narrative is not entirely complete. While super PACs are overwhelmingly fueled by the political whims of the very well-off, a sliver of their funding comes from small contributions. Those donors have no illusions that their money makes a tangible difference: if anything, it's more like a drop in the lake than a drop in the bucket. But they give anyway -- sometimes out of curiosity, sometimes out of custom, and sometimes out of a desire to partake in a bit of partisan warfare.
"It made me feel like a revolutionary war mother, throwing a tin plate and a couple of cheap rings into the molten metal for the cannon balls," said John Boyd, an Albuquerque lawyer who gave $250 to the Obama-allied Priorities USA Action in April.
Boyd is one of a select few donors who have acted on that urge. Priorities USA Action has raised a total of $7,898,000 from individuals and corporations this cycle, according to a review of campaign finance records. Of that, only $93,895 has come from contributions of $250 or less, which means just 0.88 percent of the super PAC's donations came from small-dollar donors.
The breakdown for its Republican counterpart is even more pronounced. Restore Our Future, the super PAC backing presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, has raised $55,628,000 from individuals and corporations so far this cycle. Of that, just $6,874 came in the form of contributions totaling $250 or less -- just 0.012 percent of its total.
Getting those donors to talk, it turns out, is not easy. The Huffington Post reached out to more than 30 individuals who gave $250 or less, either to Priorities USA or Restore our Future. Few had any desire to comment on their contribution.
Justin Copeland, a legal assistant at Bates Carey Nicolaides LLP in Michigan, said he couldn't discuss the $25 donation he made to Restore Our Future in late February over his work line. So he offered up his cell phone number and a time to call during lunch. He subsequently ignored two follow-up calls.
Timothy Rizzo, a real estate agent in Philadelphia who gave $25 to Restore our Future, said his response was "no comment." He also requested to be put on a "do not call" list.
When The Huffington Post called the number listed for Nicholas Moskowitz, a Virginia resident who gave $25 to Restore our Future, a man picked up and said he didn't want anything to do with the story. He then hung up. A follow-up call was met with a similar fate.
Even the small-time super PAC contributors, it turns out, don't like scrutiny. But not everyone was so reticent.
"We are by no means big donors," Adam Merrill, an attorney at Sperling & Slater who supports Romney, said of himself and his wife. "I'm a lawyer and we sit in our lunch room and talk about super PACs. ... I was curious because I knew there was no coordination. I thought it was weird that I had never gotten solicited by the super PAC. I thought maybe I wasn't on their list or radar."
So he decided to bring the radar over to him. In February, Merrill gave $100 to Restore Our Future without ever receiving a solicitation. He knows his contribution doesn't stand up to the checks exceeding half-a-million dollars that the super PAC routinely receives. But he still had some expectations.
"I thought I'd be invited to really cool parties and get emails and other info about what the super PAC is doing," he said. "And I have got to tell you, there was nothing."
Super PACs, it turns out, have little need for small donors like Merrill. It is far more cost-effective for them to convince one sympathetic billionaire to donate a small percentage of his or her fortune than to build up the type of small-donor base that could net them an equivalent amount of cash. Email lists cost money. Encouraging positive response rates to email solicitations takes time. And with super PACs rushing to pour as much money into the 2012 campaign as they can as quickly as possible, neither the former nor the latter are in large supply.
"We don’t discuss donors or donations," said Brittany Gross, Restore our Future's spokeswoman.
Bill Burton, a senior strategist and founder of Priorities USA, was more game. "While it’s no surprise that the majority of our donations are high-dollar, the smaller, middle-class sized donations mean a lot too," he said. "There is a warm place in our hearts for people who see what Mitt Romney and Karl Rove are doing and decide they want to get involved with $50 or $100 contributions."
Small-dollar donors came from all walks of life. An academician in upstate New York gave Restore our Future $10; a bartender from Washington, D.C. gave Priorities USA $200, and a student pilot in Enid, Okla. gave Restore our Future $25.
With super PACs making virtually no effort to reach small donors, it's a wonder that those donors are contributing at all. But several of those interviewed said they'd been convinced to give by methods other than direct outreach.
"Bill Maher," said Charlene Cerny of Santa Fe, when asked why she wrote a check for $250 to Priorities USA in late April. "He was the one who influenced me."
An executive director at the Santa Fe International Folk Art Market, Cerny said she was won over by the HBO host's much-replayed rant saying that Democrats were too dismissive of the super PAC funding disparity they faced. (Maher himself gave Priorities USA $1 million.) She had been planning to contribute to the DNC or the Obama campaign. Instead, she found Priorities USA online, made a donation, and got an email back expressing thanks and telling her that the contribution was not tax deductible.
"That was the end of it, which was delightful," she said.
Others didn't need a comedian to motivate them to give. A newspaper article sufficed.
"I read about it in an article in the Wall Street Journal and it just kind of was a spur-of-the-moment thing," Timothy Davies, an employee at Okaya USA in Torrance, Calif., said of his $25 donation to Restore Our Future. "I looked at the website, saw some of the testimonials about what they are doing. Didn't look too much into it beyond that."
It was the first donation he's made to any political group or candidate in his life.
Andrew Bernstein, a National Accounts Manager at Comtel Group in Massachusetts, has given to candidates and groups before, including $50 to Romney this cycle. But when it came time to give again, he was skeptical that the Republican National Committee would use his money effectively.
"I think Karl Rove is smarter than anyone at the RNC," he explained. And so, he went fishing for a super PAC that matched his political mindset. A $25 donation to Restore Our Future was the result.
"Not much," he said, when asked what kind of impact he thought his check might have. "But I think if a lot of people give 25 bucks that will help ... It is one thing to believe in it. It's another to be part of it."
While super PACs legally must operate independently of campaigns, the technical distinction is lost on some donors. Russell Marks, an engineer in Michigan, barely remembered donating $25 to Restore our Future. He said he didn't really distinguish between the super PAC and the Romney campaign, given that the end result of his contribution would likely be the same.
"In particular, I just wanted to support Romney," he said.
New Jersey attorney David Perry Davis, however, said his $200 donation to Priorities USA was meant as a statement of dissatisfaction with the president -- from the standpoint of a disaffected progressive. Davis said he viewed his contribution as a way of "donating without putting my seal of approval on the things [Obama's] done."
Or failed to do: One of Davis' main gripes was the president's refusal to push for a single-payer health care system.
"Everything I give will be to a super PAC, because Republicans are worse than Obama. So super PACs are going to concentrate their attacks on the Republicans. I hope they do a good enough job that I don't actually have to go vote for Obama in New Jersey," he said.
So too does Obama, and Burton.
Curious about the bigger donors contributing to super PACs this elections cycle? Look through the slideshow below for a list of who's who:
Sheldon Adelson And Family (R)
Sheldon Adelson, the Las Vegas casino magnate, and his family have combined to give $53.69 million to super PACs in the 2012 election cycle. At first, Adelson pumped money into Winning Our Future, the super PAC supporting Newt Gingrich, but now he is funding groups backing Mitt Romney and congressional Republicans. Adelson is ranked on the <em>Forbes</em> list of the richest Americans at number eight, with $21.5 billion in net worth. Sheldon Adelson and his wife, Miriam, gave $15 million to Winning Our Future. His daughters Sivan Ochshorn and Shelley Maye Adelson each chipped in $500,000. Another daughter and her husband each gave $250,000. Adelson and his wife have also given $20 million to Restore Our Future (supporting Romney), $5 million to Congressional Leadership Fund, $5 million to YG Action Fund, $2 million to Freedom PAC (supporting Connie Mack), $1.5 million to Independence Virginia PAC (supporting George Allen), $1 million to Ending Spending Action Fund, $1 million to Treasure Coast Jobs Coalition, $1 million to Patriot Prosperity PAC (supporting Shmuley Boteach for Congress) and $250,000 to Conservative Renewal PAC, $250,000 to Texas Conservatives Fund (both supporting David Dewhurst) and $190,000 to Hispanic Leadership Fund. Adelson remained in the number one spot among super PAC donors after counting contributions for August. He has allegedly <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/16/sheldon-adelson-to-lavish_n_1600149.html">given in excess of $70 million</a> when contributions to non-profit groups like Americans for Prosperity and the Republican Jewish Coalition are included. His involvement in politics revolves around his support for the state of Israel, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/11/sheldon-adelson-newt-gingrich-israel_n_1195867.html" target="_hplink">in particular the policies of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu</a>. His business, along with that of other super PAC donors, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/18/sheldon-adelson-bribery-super-pac-donors-fcpa_n_1602694.html" target="_hplink">is also under investigation</a> for violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.
Harold And Annette Simmons (R)
Harold Simmons, the octogenarian Dallas businessman, combined with his wife Annette and his company, Contran Corp., to donate $26,765,000 to super PACs. Simmons is listed in <em>Forbes</em> magazine as the 33rd richest person in America with a net worth of $9.3 billion. Simmons and Contran donated $19.5 million to American Crossroads, $2.3 million to Restore Our Future (supporting Mitt Romney), $1 million to Make Us Great Again (supporting Rick Perry), $1.1 million to Winning Our Future (supporting Newt Gingrich) and $100,000 to Restoring Prosperity Fund (formerly Americans for Rick Perry). Annette Simmons gave $1.2 million to Red White And Blue Fund (supporting Rick Santorum). Simmons has also given $1.1 million to Texas Conservatives Fund and $500,000 to Conservative Renewal PAC, both super PACs supporting Senate candidate David Dewhurst. He gave another $50,000 to Strong Utah PAC, $10,000 to Conservatives Action Together and $5,000 to Freedom PAC, which supports Connie Mack for Senate in Florida. Simmons -- who explained that he is contributing money to super PACs to <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/22/harold-simmons-obama_n_1371642.html">stop "that socialist," President Barack Obama</a> -- remains in second place among super PAC donors.
Bob Perry (R)
Texas homebuilder Bob Perry contributed $21,465,000 million to super PACs. Perry is one of the most prolific donors in contemporary political history. He was a major backer of Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, the outside group that helped torpedo John Kerry's presidential campaign in 2004. Perry's net worth has been estimated at around $650 million. Perry has given $10 million to Restore Our Future (supporting Romney), $7.5 million to American Crossroads, $1 million to Congressional Leadership Fund, $1 million to Club for Growth Action, $750,000 to Independence Virginia (supporting George Allen), $500,000 to Texas Conservatives Fund (supporting David Dewhurst), $250,000 to Freedom PAC, $100,000 to Make Us Great Again (supporting Rick Perry, who is of no relation) and $15,000 to Maverick PAC.
J. Joseph Ricketts (R)
J. Joseph Ricketts, the founder of TD Ameritrade and head of the family that owns the Chicago Cubs, has given $12.85 million to super PACs. Ricketts ranked 371 on <em>Forbes'</em> list of richest Americans in 2009, with a net worth of $1 billion. He has donated $12.25 million to his own super PAC, Ending Spending Action Fund. Ricketts has also given $500,000 the Campaign for Primary Accountability, a super PAC supporting challengers to incumbent Democrats and Republicans in contested congressional primary elections, and $100,000 to Restore Our Future (supporting Romney). Ricketts <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/17/joe-ricketts-jeremiah-wright-super-pac-ad_n_1525658.html" target="_hplink">became the focus of controversy</a> in May 2012 after the New York Times revealed that he was considering a proposal to fund, through a super PAC, advertisements attacking President Barack Obama with his relationship with his former pastor, the controversial Jeremiah Wright. After the publicity Ricketts and the consultants involved all stated that they were not going forward with the plan.
Fred Eychaner (D)
Fred Eychaner, the Chicago-based media mogul who made his fortune with Newsweb Corp., has given $11.8 million to super PACs. He is a longtime funder of outside groups backing Democrats, having contributed $2 million to so-called 527 groups in the effort to defeat President George W. Bush in 2004. Eychaner is also a noted LGBT activist and has funded efforts to promote equality. Eychaner gave $3.8 to Majority PAC, $3.75 to House Majority PAC, $3.5 million to Priorities USA Action (supporting Obama), $500,000 to Women Vote!, $200,000 to America Votes Action Fund and $50,000 to L PAC.
United Auto Workers (D)
The United Auto Workers union has contributed $10,707,000 million to super PACs in 2012. The union has donated $8,309,000 to the UAW Education Fund, $1.1 million to Priorities USA Action (supporting Barack Obama), $800,000 to Majority PAC, $250,000 to House Majority PAC, $208,000 to Working for Us PAC, $83,000 to Working For Us PAC, $25,000 to Defend Our Homes and $15,000 to America Votes Action Fund. (Pictured: Bob King, president of the United Auto Workers.)
National Education Association (D)
The National Education Association, the largest U.S. labor union representing teachers, contributed $9,707,000 million to super PACs. The union gave $8.279 million to its own super PAC, the NEA Advocacy Fund, $500,000 to Moving Ohio Forward Action Fund, $440,000 to America Votes action Fund, $250,000 to DGA Action, $200,000 to American Bridge 21st Century $22,000 to America Votes Action Fund, $10,000 to Credo SuperPAC, $5,000 to Young Democrats of America (hybrid PAC) and $5,000 to the Patriot Majority PAC.
Service Employees International Union (D)
The Service Employees International Union, the nation's fastest growing labor union representing close to 2 million people, contributed $9,435,907 to super PACs. SEIU is one of the most politically active unions in the country. SEIU has given $5,893,039 million to Florida Freedom PAC, $1 million to Priorities USA Action (supporting Obama), $653,549 to House Majority PAC, $550,000 to Service Employees International Union PEA-Federal, $425,000 to Rethink PAC (opposing Scott Brown), $297,750 to Working For Us PAC, $250,000 to Majority PAC, $200,000 to American Bridge 21st Century, $120,000 to Sierra Club Action, $20,000 to Vote Your Values, $12,919 to Workers' Voice, $8,650 to Connecticut's Future PAC and $5,000 to Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund.
Republican Governors Association (R)
The Republican Governors Association, a 527 political committee currently headed by Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, gave $8,305,000 to the super PAC RGA Right Direction. William Koch, the lesser-known Koch brother, and two of his companies, petroleum, energy and minerals companies Oxbow Carbon and Huron Carbon, gave $4 million to Restore Our Future (backing Romney) and $500,000 to America 360 Committee.
James Simons (D)
James Simons, the billionaire chairman of the hedge fund Renaissance Technologies, gave $7.5 million to super PACs. Simons is ranked 30 on the <em>Forbes</em> list of richest Americans, with a net worth of $10.5 billion. Simons gave $3.5 million to Priorities USA Action (supporting Barack Obama), $3 million to Majority PAC, a super PAC that backs Democratic Senate candidates, and $1 million to House Majority PAC, backing Democratic House candidates.
The AFL-CIO, the nation's largest federation of unions, contributed $6,123,437 to super PACs. The federation, boasting 12.2 million members, is made up of 57 national and international labor unions. Its funds come from the dues paid by members. The AFL-CIO gave $5.95 million to its own super PAC, and that super PAC gave $100,000 to American Bridge 21st Century.
Specialty Group (R)
This unknown, unlisted Knoxville, Tennessee company, Specialty Group Inc., made a massive $5.275 million contribution to FreedomWorks for America in early October. (Pictured: FreedomWorks for America, the group supporting by Specialty Group Inc's contribution.)
Robert Rowling And TRT Holdings (R)
Robert Rowling, the Texas billionaire who runs the business holding company TRT Holdings, has contributed $5.135 million to super PACs in the 2012 election cycle. Rowling ranks 66 on <em>Forbes'</em> list of richest Americans, with a net worth of $4.7 billion. He gave $5 million to American Crossroads, $100,000 to Restore Our Future (supporting Romney) and $35,000 to Texas Conservatives Fund (supporting David Dewhurst).
American Federation Of State, County And Municipal Employees (D)
The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, the nation's largest public employee union with 1.6 million members, contributed $4,174,085 million to super PACs. AFSCME is very politically active in local and national politics. In 2011, it faced direct attacks in such states as Ohio and Wisconsin, when Republican governors sought to curtail collective bargaining rights for public employees. AFSCME gave $1 million to Majority PAC, $575,000 to American Bridge 21st Century, $986,788 to Workers' Voice, $529,630 to Moving Ohio Forward, $415,000 to House Majority PAC, $260,120 to America Votes Action Fund, $250,000 to Priorities USA Action (supporting Barack Obama), $200,000 to Working Families For Hawaii (supporting Mazie Hirono), $125,000 for Iowans for Integrity in Leadership, $100,000 to Committee to Elect An Effective Valley Congressman (supporting Howard Berman), $100,000 to Fair Share Action, $50,000 to the American Worker, $50,000 to Sierra Club Action, $50,000 to Ohio Families United, $44,900 to Working For Us PAC, $42,500 to Defend Our Homes, $25,000 to Women Vote!, $8,650 to Connecticut's Future PAC and $5,000 to Young Democrats for America.
Peter Thiel (R)
Peter Thiel, the hedge fund manager, venture capitalist and early Facebook investor, has contributed $4.73 million to super PACs. Thiel, a radical libertarian, ranks 293 on the <em>Forbes</em> list of richest Americans, with a net worth of $1.5 billion. The majority of Thiel's money, $2.73 million, has gone to Endorse Liberty, a super PAC supporting Ron Paul in the Republican presidential race. He has since switched his giving to Club for Growth Action, the super PAC of the ultra-conservative free market Club for Growth. Thiel has given $2 million to the Club super PAC.
William Koch, Oxbow Carbon And Huron Carbon (R)
William Koch, the lesser-known Koch brother, and two of his companies, petroleum, energy and minerals companies Oxbow Carbon and Huron Carbon, gave $4 million to Restore Our Future (backing Romney) and $500,000 to America 360 Committee.
Joseph Craft And Alliance Management Holdings (R)
Joseph Craft and his holding company, Alliance Management Holdings, gave $4.35 million to super PACs. Craft is ranked 331 on the <em>Forbes</em> list of richest Americans, with a net worth of $1.3 billion. Alliance Management Holdings is a privately held company run by Craft with significant shares in the managing partner of Alliance Resource Partners. Craft and his company gave $3.35 million to American Crossroads and $1 million to Restore Our Future (supporting Romney).
Jerry Perenchio (R)
Jerry Perenchio, founder of the Spanish language television network Univision, contributed $4.1 million to super PACs. Perenchio ranks 171 on the <em>Forbes</em> list of richest Americans, with a net worth of $2.3 billion. Perenchio gave $2.5 million to American Crossroads, $1.5 million to Restore Our Future (supporting Mitt Romney), and $100,000 to Our Destiny (supporting Jon Huntsman).
American Federation Of Teachers (D)
The American Federation of Teachers, the second-largest union in the nation with 1.5 million members, gave $3,866,558 to super PACs. The union donated $1,116,558 to the AFL-CIO Workers' Voices PAC, $1 million to Majority PAC, $1 million to Priorities USA Action (supporting Barack Obama), $500,000 to House Majority PAC and $250,000 to DGA Action.
Robert And Rebekah Mercer (R)
Robert Mercer (left), the co-CEO of the $15 billion hedge fund Renaissance Technologies, and his daughter, Rebekah Mercer, gave $3,804,354 million to super PACs. Robert Mercer contributed $1 million to Restore Our Future (supporting Romney), $1 million to American Crossroads, $600,000 to Club for Growth Action, $250,000 to Freedom PAC, $250,000 to Prosperity First, $239,354 to Republican Super PAC and $200,000 to National Horizon. Rebekah Mercer gave $50,000 to the Coalition for American Values and $15,000 to the Club for Growth.
Steve & Amber Mostyn (D)
Steve and Amber Mostyn have contributed $3.428 million to super PACs in the 2012 election cycle. Steve, a multi-millionaire trial lawyer in Houston, Texas, and the president of the Texas Trial Lawyer Association, is a long-time donor to Democratic Party causes in both Texas and nationally. The Mostyns gave $2,003,850 to Priorities USA Action (supporting Obama), $1 million to House Majority PAC, $225,000 to Texans for America's Future and $200,000 to Planned Parenthood Votes.
Working for Working Americans (D)
Working for Working Americans, a union-run super PAC, has contributed $3.375 million to other super PACs in the 2012 election cycle. The super PAC has given $2 million to House Majority PAC, $1.15 million to Majority PAC and $250,000 to Lunch Pail Republicans. (Pictured: Nancy Pelosi, leader of the House Democrats, whose efforts Working for Working Americans' contributions are aiding.)
John Childs (R)
John Childs, the head of the Boston-based private equity firm J.W. Childs & Associates, has contributed $3.375 million to super PACs. Childs has contributed $1.125 million to Club for Growth Action, $1 million to Restore Our Future (supporting Mitt Romney), $1 million to American Crossroads and $250,000 to Congressional Leadership Fund.
Amy Goldman (D)
Amy Goldman, the author and activist who has been called "perhaps the world's premier vegetable gardener," contributed $3.25 million to super PACs. Goldman is the heiress to the fortune of New York real estate titan Sol Goldman. Goldman gave $1.5 million to Planned Parenthood Votes, the super PAC of the women's health provider, $1 million to Priorities USA Action (supporting Barack Obama), $500,000 to House Majority PAC and $250,000 to American Bridge 21st Century.
United Association (D)
The United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing, Pipe Fitting and Sprinkler Fitting Industry, commonly known as United Association, has contributed $3,404,500 to super PACs in the 2012 election. United Association gave $2,191,500 to Priorities USA Action (supporting Barack Obama), $500,000 to Workers' Voice, $325,000 to Majority PAC, $313,000 to House Majority PAC and $75,000 to The American Worker.
Crow Holdings LLC, Harlan Crow and Trammell Crow (R)
Crow Holdings LLC, which manages the wealth of the late real estate developer Trammel Crow, its director Harlan Crow and his brother Trammel S. Crow have contributed $3.16 million to super PACs. Harlan Crow, Trammel S. Crow and the company combined to give $1.5 million to American Crossroads, $1.3 million to Restore Our Future (supporting Romney), $250,000 to FreedomWorks for America, $50,000 to Texas Conservatives Fund (supporting David Dewhurst), $35,000 to Campaign for Primary Accountability, $25,000 to American Unity PAC and $10,000 to Jan PAC.
Jeffrey Katzenberg (D)
Jeffrey Katzenberg, the CEO of DreamWorks Animation, has given gave $3.15 million to super PACs. Katzenberg's net worth is estimated to be above $800 million. Katzenberg has given $3 million to Priorities USA Action, the super PAC supporting Barack Obama's reelection bid. He has also given $100,000 to Majority PAC, $25,000 to House Majority PAC and $25,000 to Committee to Elect An Effective Valley Congressman, the super PAC supporting Rep. Howard Berman (D-Calif.), a staunch ally of Hollywood. Katzenberg is also a major fundraiser for the Obama reelection campaign, having brought in more than $500,000.
Communications Workers Of America (D)
The Communications Workers of America, the largest telecommunications union in the world with a membership above 700,000, contributed $2,997,741 to super PACs in the 2012 election cycle. The union donated $2,280,578 to the Communications Workers of America super PAC, $440,000 to Independent Source, $150,000 to House Majority PAC, $57,000 to Progressive Kick Independent Expenditures, $45,000 to American Worker and $28,163 to Workers' Voice.
John Ramsey (R)
John Ramsey, a 21-year old college student who inherited millions from his banker grandfather, contributed $2.84 million to super PACs. The majority of the young libertarian's contributions went to his own super PAC, Liberty for All. Another $450 went to Revolution PAC, which supported Ron Paul for the Republican nomination for president.
Cooperative Of American Physicians (I)
The <a href="http://www.capphysicians.com/about_us" target="_hplink">Cooperative of American Physicians</a> is a medical malpractice and medical liability insurer. The group has contributed $2.79 million to its own super PAC. No other information has been provided on the source of the funds contributed by the cooperative.
Dealer Computer Services, CRC Information Systems, Fairbanks Properties, & Waterbury Properties (Bob Brockman) (R)
Four companies -- Dealer Computer Services, CRC Information Systems, Fairbanks Properties and Waterbury Properties -- sharing the same address as The Reynolds & Reynolds Company headed by Bob Brockman, have given $2.75 million to super PACs. CRC Information Systems, Fairbanks Properties and Waterbury Properties combined to give $1 million to Restore Our Future and another $1 million to American Crossroads. The Reynolds and Reynolds Company gave $500,000 to American Crossroads. Dealer Computer Services has given $200,000 to the pro-David Dewhurst Texas Conservatives Fund and $50,000 to Restoring Prosperity Fund.
Kenneth And Anne Griffin (R)
Kenneth Griffin, the head of the massive hedge fund Citadel, has contributed $2.58 million to super PACs. Griffin is ranked 173rd on the <em>Forbes</em> list of richest Americans. In 2008, he helped raise money for then-Sen. Barack Obama during the Democratic primary, but switched to support Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) in the general election. Griffin has since become increasingly critical of President Obama and what he considers to be class warfare rhetoric coming from the White House. He stated that the wealthy have "<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/11/ken-griffin-mitt-romney_n_1337721.html" target="_hplink">insufficient influence</a>" in politics and urged the rich to donate to political efforts to preserve their position atop the food chain. Griffin has given $1.55 million to Restore Our Future (supporting Mitt Romney) and $1 million to American Crossroads. His wife, Anne, gave $30,000 to the Campaign for Primary Accountability.
George Soros (D)
George Soros, the noted hedge fund investor and long-time Democratic donor, has contributed $2.525 million to super PACs when including contributions that he gave in October. Soros became famous for his political contributions after he gave more than $30 million to 527 groups to defeat former President George W. Bush in 2004. He has reached a mythological status with some conservatives as a wildly influential figure in world politics. In reported contributions, Soros has given $1 million to American Bridge 21st Century, $1 million to Priorities USA Action (supporting Barack Obama), $425,000 to House Majority PAC and $100,000 to Majority PAC.
Foster Friess (R)
Foster Friess, the Wyoming investor, contributed $2.52 million to super PACs, mostly to those supporting the presidential candidacy of Rick Santorum. Since Santorum dropped out of the race, Friess has shifted his contributions to help Mitt Romney and congressional Republicans. Friess is estimated to be worth above $500 million. He has given $2.1 million to Red White and Blue Fund (supporting Santorum), $100,000 to Restore Our Future (supporting Mitt Romney), $100,000 to FreedomWorks, $50,000 to Leaders for Families (also supporting Santorum), $50,000 to Freedom PAC, $25,000 to Friends of the Majority, $25,000 to USA Super PAC, $10,000 to Freedom Born Fund, $10,000 to Arizonans for Jobs, $10,000 for Independence Virginia PAC,$10,000 to Club for Growth Action, $5,000 to Fund for Freedom and $872 to Jan PAC.
Chevron, one of the nation's five largest companies, gave $2.5 million to Congressional Leadership Fund, a super PAC to elect Republicans to the House of Representatives.
Weaver Popcorn (R)
Weaver Popcorn, the Indiana-based popcorn maker owned by Michael Weaver, has contributed $2.4 million to American Crossroads, the super PAC founded by Republican operative Karl Rove. The company is one of the largest popcorn companies in the United States and is best known for their Pop Weaver brand.
Paul Singer (R)
Paul Singer (pictured far right), the hedge fund titan in charge of Elliot Associates, contributed $2.258 million to super PACs through June 2012. Singer has an estimated worth of $900 million. He has given $1,158,211 million to American Unity, a super PAC meant to support pro-gay marriage Republican candidates for office, $1 million to Restore Our Future (supporting Romney) and $100,000 to Club for Growth Action.
William Dore (R)
William Dore, the Louisiana energy executive, gave $2.25 million to Red White and Blue Fund (supporting Santorum). This was the biggest foray into political giving by Dore, who has previously cut large checks for Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and the Republican Governors Association. He is estimated to be worth in the hundreds of millions of dollars. Credit: <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M_KzFkneorU" target="_hplink">YouTube</a>
Jon Stryker (D)
Jon Stryker, an architect and heir to the Stryker Corporation fortune, has contributed $2.25 million to super PACs. Stryker has given $2 million to Priorities USA Action, the super PAC supporting Barack Obama, and $250,000 to House Majority PAC. Stryker is worth $1.1 billion and ranks 375th on the Fortune 400 richest Americans list. He is a noted GLBT activist having donated money to groups including the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund. Stryker is also the founder of the Arcus Foundation, the largest grant maker for gay and lesbian activism in the nation. Stryker has spent big in the past to help elect Democrats and oust Republicans from office in his home state of Michigan. (Pictured: President Barack Obama, the candidate supported by Stryker's contribution.)
Julian Robertson (R)
Julian Robertson, the hedge fund titan and founder of Tiger Management, contributed $2.25 million to Restore Our Future (supporting Romney) in the current election cycle. Robertson is ranked 166 on the <em>Forbes</em> list of richest Americans, with a net worth of $2.4 billion.
FreedomWorks, the conservative nonprofit organization, contributed $2,236,514 to its super PAC, FreedomWorks for America. The group is run by former Rep. Dick Armey and was instrumental in organizing the original Tea Party protests in 2009. The super PAC has been active in Republican Senate primaries backing Richard Mourdock's successful campaign to beat Sen. Dick Lugar in Indiana. The group also also thrown its weight behind Ted Cruz in Texas and Don Stenberg in Nebraska. Stenberg lost his primary to state Sen. Deb Fischer and Cruz faces a run-off election against Texas Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst. The group is also spending money to defeat Sen. Orrin Hatch in Utah. FreedomWorks has been spending money to help elect Tea Party Senate candidates like Cruz and Mourdock in the general election.
National Association Of Letter Carriers (D)
The National Association of Letter Carriers' political action committee, the Committee on Letter Carriers Political Education Fund, gave $2,225,919 to super PACs during the 2012 election cycle. The union gave $1,213,919 to the AFL-CIO super PAC, Workers' Voice, $512,000 to House Majority PAC and $500,000 to Majority PAC.
Jon Huntsman Sr. (R)
Jon Huntsman Sr., the billionaire Utah industrialist, contributed $2.22 million to a super PAC supporting the presidential candidacy of his son, Jon Huntsman Jr. Huntsman Sr. has given away much of his fortune in recent years and is estimated to be worth slightly north of $1 billion. Huntsman's contributions to Our Destiny, the super PAC backing his son in the Republican primary contest, came under scrutiny based on the laws banning coordination between super PACs and campaigns.
Irwin Jacobs (D)
Irwin Jacobs, a founder of Qualcomm, has contributed $2.2 million to super PACs. Jacobs is worth $1.15 billion and ranks 372nd on the Forbes list of the 400 richest Americans. Jacobs has given $2 million to Priorities USA Action (supporting Barack Obama) $100,000 to Majority PAC and $100,000 to American Bridge 21st Century.
National Association of Realtors (I)
The National Association of Realtors, the primary trade association for realtors, has contributed $2,110,485 to its own super PAC in the 2012 election cycle. The group has long been a player in congressional elections and has already spent significant amounts to help Rep. Gary Miller (R-Calif.) hold his newly redistricted seat in the 2012 elections.
National Air Traffic Controllers Association (D)
The National Air Traffic Controllers Association has given $2,106,597 to super PACs during the 2012 election cycle. The union represents 20,000 controllers, engineers and other professionals involved in air traffic control. The union gave $1.25 million to Priorities USA Action (supporting Barack Obama), $600,000 to Majority PAC, $156,597 to the AFL-CIO Workers' Voice and $100,000 to House Majority PAC.
Warren Stephens, Stephens Investment Holding & Stephens Inc. (R)
Warren Stephens, the head of Stephens, Inc., has contributed $2.05 million to super PACs. Stephens is tied for the position of 130th richest American, according to Forbes. Stephens has given $1.5 million to American Crossroads, $500,000 to Restore Our Future (supporting Romney) and $50,000 to Congressional Leadership Fund. (Pictured: Stephens, right, with President George W. Bush.)
Laborers' International Union (D)
The Laborers' International Union, which represents a half-million construction workers, has given $2.025 million to super PACs. The union gave $1.3 million to House Majority PAC, $650,000 to Majority PAC, $70,000 to Workers' Voice and $5,000 to The American Worker.
Richard Roberts (R)
Richard Roberts, an adviser at Mutual Pharmacy, has given $2.1 million to super PACs in the 2012 election cycle. Roberts gave $1 million to Treasure Coast Jobs Coalition, $750,000 to Restore Our Future, the super PAC supporting Mitt Romney, $250,000 to American Crossroads and $10,000 to Patriot Prosperity PAC. (Pictured: Mitt Romney, the candidate supported by Roberts' contribution.)
The Morses, The Villages & Other Companies (R)
H. Gary Morse, his wife, their children, the retirement community they operate, The Villages, and a number of subsidiary companies have combined to contribute $2,003,400 to super PACs in the 2012 election cycle. The Morses and their companies contributed $1,753,400 to Restore Our Future (supporting Mitt Romney), $200,000 to American Crossroads and $50,000 to Freedom PAC (supporting Connie Mack). H. Gary Morse is part of Romney's Florida finance team and has hosted fundraisers for the former Massachusetts governor. The family's super PAC giving has all gone to support Romney's bid. Through September, a series of subsidiary companies controlled by The Villages and H. Gary Morse contributed $1.25 million to Restore Our Future and American Crossroads.
Anne Cox Chambers (D)
Anne Cox Chambers, the owner of the media company Cox Enterprises, has contributed $2 million to Priorities USA Action, the super PAC backing President Barack Obama. Chambers is also the daughter of failed 1920 Democratic presidential nominee James Cox. Chambers is the 26th richest American, according to the Forbes 400 list, with a net worth of $12 billion.