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Hillary Clinton speaking in Hooksett, N.H. on Feb. 9, 2016.  (Photo:  Ted Eytan/flickr/cc)

Who's Pumping Money into 2016 Election? Hedge Fund Heads

New analysis by Reuters shows Clinton, Cruz biggest recipients of hedge fund managers' donations

Andrea Germanos

A new analysis by Reuters offers a fresh look at the interests pouring money into the 2016 president election.

Hedge fund managers are upping their game in this election season, with Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton and Republican Ted Cruz the biggest beneficiaries, Reuters' review of Federal Election Commission filings found.

"About $47 million has been lavished on presidential candidates and lawmakers and the political action committees that support them by two dozen of the industry's top managers in the first 13 months of this election season," the news agency reports.

In fact, hedge fund managers are on track "to more than double the amount they gave in the 2012 election campaign."

That continues a trend—the Center for Responsive Politics (CRP) reports:

While individuals who work for hedge funds had been contributing to campaigns for years, the industry itself didn't emerge as a significant political player or campaign contributor until 2007, coinciding with the increased scrutiny the industry began to face from lawmakers. However, the industry has more than made up for lost time. Hedge funds contributed nearly $40 million during the 2012 election cycle -- more than double their contributions during the 2008 election cycle.

Robert Mercer, co-chief executive of Renaissance Technologies, has been a big backer for Cruz, Reuters found, giving $11 million to the Keep the Promise Super PAC, which supports him.

Clinton, meanwhile, is taking in big bucks from George Soros. He "alone is responsible for $7.3 million of the $11.7 million that has gone to Super PACs and other committees supporting Clinton."

Fueling this input of cash may be due in part to Donald Trump, Reuters reports. The billionaire Republican front-runner supports closing the "carried interest" tax loophole, which, as the Citizens for Tax Justice explains, "allows wealthy investment fund managers to pay taxes at lower rates than middle-income people." One Boston Globe reporter dubbed it "the tax break that won’t die." Clinton supports closing it as well.

Reuters adds that Columbia University political science professor Gregory Wawro

speculated that Trump’s popularity with blue-collar and middle-class voters could prompt the Republican Party to reassess an approach to taxes and economic issues that has favored top earners and major corporations in recent years.

The Bernie Sanders campaign has repeatedly pointed to the Clinton's backing by Wall Street interests to contrast the two presidential hopefuls. He previously told CNN,  "To a significant degree, her campaign is funded by Wall Street and big money interests." Clinton, for her part, has dismissed any "undue influence" from such backing.

CRP reported last week:

Clinton and the super PACs supporting her have raised over $18 million from the securities and investment industry, which includes Goldman Sachs and other titans of Wall Street. For Priorities USA alone, the number is about $14.7 million — although when Sanders spoke [on Feb. 4], the most recent reported figure was only $13.7 million. During Clinton’s career in the Senate, she raised $14.7 million from that industry.

A CRP analysis also shows that hedge funds were generally donating far more to Democrats than Republicans through the 2008 campaign season. Since 2012, however, that's flipped. Reuters reports that their donations "to 2016 presidential candidates and lawmakers and the PACs supporting them favored Republicans over Democrats by about 3 to 2."

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