Where are the 1% of the 1%? Big donors of elections past already fueling 2016

Big donors of elections past are already showing up for 2016. (Photo credit: Ervins Strauhmanis/Flickr)

Earlier this year, Sunlight took an in-depth look at the 1% of the 1% — a small slice of elite megadonors playing the role of political gatekeepers in Washington — and how much they spent during the 2014 election cycle. As we look through campaign spending this year, it’s not a surprise that we’re seeing some of those same names pop up.

Several 2016 candidates have already received large contributions from those donors.

Even though Hillary Clinton eschewed money in politics by introducing her campaign finance plan this week, the super PAC supporting her candidacy, Priorities USA Action, received money from three members of the 1% of the 1% club who routinely spend big money on political campaigns.

Those include hedge fund managers Donald Sussman and George Soros, as well as banker Herbert Sandler. Each has donated a million dollars to Priorities USA, which, so far lists its campaign activity as engaging in efforts to oppose GOP candidates Jeb Bush, Donald Trump and Scott Walker.

Speaking of Scott Walker, the super PAC supporting his presidential run, Unintimidated PAC, has received a total of $4.9 million from Marlene Ricketts. She is married to hedge fund manager Joe Ricketts, the founder of TD Ameritrade. The family also owns the Chicago Cubs.

Later this month, Ricketts’ son Todd will host a high-dollar fundraiser at his Manhattan home benefiting Walker. The cost to attend the fundraiser ranges from $2,700 to $27,000.

Unintimidated PAC has also received $1.75 million from Richard Uihlein and $750,000 from his wife, Elizabeth. The couple own Uline, a “distributor of shipping, industrial and packaging material.”

Meanwhile, Conservative, Authentic, Responsible Leadership for You and for America — or CARLY for America — advocates for, you guessed it, Carly Fiorina. Among her biggest supporters is 1% of the 1% member Jerrold Perenchio of Chartwell Partners, LLC, who’s donated $1.5 million to CARLY for America.

CARLY for America has also received money from Keep the Promise, a PAC we’ve previously written about that’s backing Ted Cruz. It is funded by Robert Mercer, another member of the 1% of 1%.

In 2014, the 1% of the 1%, just 31,976 individual donors, poured $1.8 billion dollars into the 2014 races — and that was just for a midterm election. So, while they have donated a lot of money already, there is likely to be much more before this election cycle is finished.