For Immediate Release

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Alan Zibel azibel@citizen.org 202-588-7730
Mike Stankiewicz, mstankiewicz@citizen.org, (202) 588-7779

Financial Sector Plutocrats Power Midterm Election Super PAC Spending

Top 100 Donors to Outside Spending Groups Dropped $690 Million on 2018 Elections

WASHINGTON - Hedge fund billionaires and other wealthy individual donors gave nearly $690 million to outside groups that poured money into influencing the 2018 midterm elections, according to a report by Public Citizen.

The analysis by Public Citizen examined contributions by the top 100 wealthy individuals who funded outside political organizations that reported their donors for the 2017-2018 election cycle, including super PACs and other nonprofits.

Of about $690 million in donations from these individuals, about $344 million, or nearly half, came from 36 donors with fortunes tied to private equity, hedge funds, investing and banking.

The vast majority of the individual donors examined –74 out of the top 100 – were men. Eighteen were women and eight were couples. Remarkably, 97 of 100 were white.

“By lavishing spending on both Republicans and Democrats, the ultrawealthy receive access and influence to block the aggressive, progressive policy agenda that Americans favor by overwhelming margins,” said Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen. “Our democracy can’t function if the plutocrat class maintains an iron grip on American election campaigns.”

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The financial industry represented 74% of funding for pro-Democrat outside spending efforts compared with 25% of funding for pro-Republican efforts. Outside the financial industry, gambling, technology and industrial supply companies and inheritance were the most significant sources of wealth for the top 100 individual funders of outside spending efforts.

Political donors from only four states – New York, California, Nevada and Illinois – made up more than three-quarters of individual donations to outside spending groups.

This high concentration of bipartisan donors from the financial industry – and – particularly from founders of hedge funds, private equity firms and of high-speed trading firms – may hinder efforts to enact important reforms to the industry.

Public Citizen has long called for a Wall Street sales tax on financial transactions like stock, bond and derivative trades. This tax would raise substantial revenue, largely from high-volume traders and would have little impact on individual investors. Yet this sort of sensible policy change is far less likely if wealthy traders are the biggest political benefactors.

Read the full report.

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Public Citizen is a national, nonprofit consumer advocacy organization founded in 1971 to represent consumer interests in Congress, the executive branch and the courts.

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