Since the Citizens United ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2010 unleashed unlimited amounts of campaign money for super PACs, the cash has truly been pouring in. Interestingly enough, the largest amounts have been coming from ultra-rich individuals and not corporations (now people, according to the ruling). Both Democrats and Republicans are benefiting from the largess of billionaires hoping to influence the election, but the GOP is way ahead in number of dollars collected.
The largest donors by far are Las Vegas billionaires Sheldon Adelson and his wife Miriam. They initially bankrolled the Newt Gingrich candidacy. When Newt flamed out, Mitt Romney became first in line for the Adelson's millions. Right after Romney named Paul Ryan as his choice for running mate, Ryan was in Las Vegas paying the Adelsons a visit. According to Time, the Adelsons have given $35,313,400 to Republicans.
Another big contributor, who also makes Las Vegas his home, is Steve Wynn. This casino billionaire has ponied up an estimated $10,000,000 for the GOP.
Both Wynn and the Adelsons have substantially increased their wealth through gambling interests in China. Perhaps a small silver lining to their prodigious campaign spending is putting some of those made in China dollars back into the U.S. economy via buys from American media companies and salaries for campaign and super PAC workers. And with Nevada being recognized as one of the 10 most important swing states, some of that money is getting spent right here. Anyone who watches TV has already seen those dollars at work.
On the Democratic side, the top two donors are media mogul Fred Eychaner ($3,634,600) and environmentalist and philanthropist Amy Goldman ($2,545,040). While this is big money, it doesn't rise to the level of funds super PACs supporting Republicans have managed to rake in.
With Citizens United, none of this is illegal. It does, however, fuel a campaign (from both sides) that is more negative and more expensive than any in U.S. history. It also makes regular people like me feel like they don't matter much in the whole scheme of things - the rich folks fight it out with cash for boxing gloves and the rest of us become mere spectators who get to pick up the pennies after the bout.
Source: Time Magazine - August 13, 2012.
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