Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

For Immediate Release


Angela Bradbery, Communications Director, (202) 588-7741,, Twitter

Press Release

Just 56 Megadonors Funnel Nearly Half a Billion Dollars to Super PACs

Just 56 megadonors funnel nearly half a billion dollars to super PACs

Fifty-six rich election donors have poured at least $2 million each into super PAC groups this election season, more than double the level in the 2014 midterms and a record for any midterm election, according to a report (PDF) by Public Citizen. Contributions to super PACs from these 56 individuals add up to nearly $481 million spent by the wealthiest Americans to influence our elections.

The biggest individual contributor is Republican casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson, who has provided more than $112 million to super PACs so far this year, followed far behind by Democratic donor Tom Steyer at about $50 million and Republican donor Richard Uihlein at nearly $37 million.

Additionally, the top five contributors have spent more than $251 million to influence the 2018 midterms, and since 2012, these billionaires have spent more than $700 million to influence elections.

“Americans know that big money is rotting away the foundation of our democracy and blocking an economic populist agenda that citizens desperately want but the corporate class abhors,” said Public Citizen President Robert Weissman.” This year’s midterms have generated an enormous amount of grassroots energy from voters, but also a shockingly large amount of money from the ultrarich. This is not what democracy should look like. This is what oligarchy looks like; just 56 donors responsible for more than a third of all funding for the leading edge in attack ad spending.”

The analysis demonstrates the extraordinary influence of megadonors on American politics in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision, which allowed unlimited contributions from corporations and wealthy individuals to influence elections.

Total outside spending on the 2018 race, including super PACs and other outside groups, now exceeds the billion-dollar threshold, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Until this year, the 2012 and 2016 presidential elections were the only races to exceed $1 billion in outside spending.

“The ever-escalating spending by billionaires should not be an accepted fact of our politics,” said Alan Zibel, research director for Public Citizen’s Corporate Presidency project. “We should all be outraged. By overwhelming margins, the American people want to end big money domination of our elections and politics.” Nineteen states have passed a resolution or an equivalent calling for a constitutional amendment to overturn the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision.

Read the full report (PDF).


Public Citizen is a nonprofit consumer advocacy organization that champions the public interest in the halls of power. We defend democracy, resist corporate power and work to ensure that government works for the people – not for big corporations. Founded in 1971, we now have 500,000 members and supporters throughout the country.

Biden Urged to Fire Covid Response Chief Over 'Damning' Failures

"Zients has failed to provide the materials necessary to improve the U.S. response, or the guidance necessary to keep the pandemic under control," argued one critic.

Jake Johnson ·

As Sinema Defends Filibuster, Progressives Say 'Vote Her the Hell Out'

"The filibuster is a meaningless Senate rule. It's a remnant of slavery used to block civil rights for generations."

Jake Johnson ·

Poor People's Campaign Readies 'Massive, Nonviolent' Effort to Save Democracy

"We are not in this for a moment, but for a movement," said Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II. "Our deadline is victory."

Jake Johnson ·

Tsunami Triggered by Huge Volcanic Eruption Hits Tonga

The undersea volcano's eruption also sparked tsunami warnings for Fiji, Samoa, New Zealand, and the West Coast of the United States.

Common Dreams staff ·

Sanders Says Manchin and Sinema Are Imperiling US Democracy

"It is a sad day when two members of the Democratic Caucus are prepared to allow the Freedom to Vote Act to fail and undermine the future of American democracy."

Jake Johnson ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.

Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo