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Tag Archive: campaign donors

Regulating Money in Politics a Global Shortcoming

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Open government advocates around the world (including Sunlight) are thrilled to see how more and more governments commit themselves to openness. Unfortunately, a vital piece of the transparency agenda--party and campaign funding--remain depressingly opaque. Because the financing behind how candidates and parties come to power influence later policy and spending decisions, it is critical that countries address political finance transparency. Sunlight is committed to create a strong base for reform by combining our efforts with other activists and sharing our expertise in a meaningful way.

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The Political One Percent of the One Percent

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This piece was prepared in collaboration with Ethan Phelps-Goodman. If you think wealth is concentrated in the United States, just wait till you look at the data on campaign spending. In the 2010 election cycle, 26,783 individuals each contributed more than $10,000 to federal political campaigns. Combined, these donors spent $774 million. That's 24.3% of the total from individuals to politicians, parties, PACs, and independent expenditure groups. Together, they would fill only two-thirds of the 41,222 seats at Nationals Park the baseball field two miles from the U.S. Capitol. When it comes to politics, they are The One Percent of the One Percent. A Sunlight Foundation examination of data from the Federal Election Commission and the Center for Responsive Politics reveals a growing dependence of candidates and political parties on the One Percent of the One Percent, resulting in a political system that could be disproportionately influenced by donors in a handful of wealthy enclaves. Our examination also shows that some of the heaviest hitters in the 2010 cycle were ideological givers, suggesting that the influence of the One Percent of the One Percent on federal elections may be one of the obstacles to compromise in Washington.

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