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Tiny white elite dominates US political donor landscape – study

Published time: October 01, 2013 13:54
Edited time: October 01, 2013 22:23
Reuters / Jason Reed

Reuters / Jason Reed

A tiny wealthy male elite is behind most of the biggest contributions to the 2012 election cycle in the US, a new study shows. The report comes just as the US Supreme Court considers whether it should strip a ceiling on political donations.

In a case the Supreme Court will begin hearing next Thursday, Shaun McCutcheon, a wealthy donor backed by the Republican National Committee, is challenging this aggregate limit on how much an individual may donate overall to candidates, parties and political action committees (PACs) over an election cycle.

David Koch (Jamie McCarthy / Getty Images / AFP)

If the court strikes down the limit, it could prompt bigger contributions from those who already reached or were about to reach it, argues Public Campaign, a Washington-based advocacy group. Such a move would “put power even further into the hands of Wall Street bankers, billionaires, and K Street lobbyists,” it says.

The group analyzed campaign finance records and census demographic data to paint a likely portrait of those limit-restricted donors. The study included only individuals and not corporations, unions and other groups. The resulting portrait is that of a wealthy white male, possibly a billionaire from Wall Street or an influential lobbyist from K Street, the group says.

The Public Campaign says that 1,219 individual donors gave at least $105,300 – within 10 percent of the $117,000 aggregate limit – in 2012 campaign. Three of the five richest Americans – Larry Ellison, Charles Koch and David Koch – and one in every six US billionaires gave up to the contribution limit. Their donations totaled more than $150 million, with 56 percent going to Republicans and 41 percent to Democrats and the rest to independents and PACs, the study showed.

More than 80 per cent of the elite donors come from America’s richest 10 percent of neighborhoods as measured by per capita income. Wall Street and the financial sector dominate the ranks, accounting for 28 percent of the donors, the study says. One tenth of them are lawyers or lobbyists.

Less than one-in-50 of the top donors live in communities which are predominantly African-American or Hispanic, the study showed. Only about one quarter of the elite donors are female.

Larry Ellison (Justin Sullivan / Getty Images / AFP)

"You're going to end up having politics be e-Bay for millionaires and billionaires," said Nick Nyhart, president and chief executive of Public Campaign in a reference to the popular online shopping service.

But former Federal Elections Commission Chairman Brad Smith said worries about a small group of people having disproportionate influence are unfounded.

"Historically, this is how campaigns have always been funded. A handful of people, from their personal fortunes, kept the revolution going," he told Reuters.

Smith’s Center for Competitive Politics has filed an amicus brief in the case arguing against the contribution limits.

The 2012 election cycle was the most expensive on record, according to Washington research group The Center for Responsive Politics. It featured more than $6 billion in spending across federal campaigns.

Comments (32)


Emmett 06.04.2014 15:26

The tiny white and zionist elites make up the shadow gov't that actually run and control the US. The president and the congress are merely figure heads.


veracruz 05.04.2014 07:01

The white elites are actually jews or controlled by jews. The jews are the arch enemy and destroyers of white civilization. The world is run by jews and their pet goyim all the rest are just goyim. The remaining whites are either shabbazz goy or enemies of the state. Has anyone ever heard of Jacob Schiff, the Baruch brothers Karl Marx or Genrikh Yagoda the video "Under The Sign of The Scorption?" Besides that the entire media complex of the US and probably the EU is a Jewish owned and controlled tsunami of subversion, lies nonsense, misinformation, self aggrandizement, mind control and slander against white people.


Chris Riley 04.04.2014 18:55

I would rather be part of a tiny white elite then a large overbloated illiterate with their hands out that is so dysfunctional. Trying to find an opening in a paper bag is useless.

View all comments (32)
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