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Tag Archive: one percent of one percent 2012

Mysterious Rick Santorum super PAC donor speaks out

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In the 2012 election 28 percent of all disclosed political contributions came from just 31,385 people. In a nation of 313.85 million, these donors represent the 1% of the 1%, an elite class that increasingly serves as the gatekeepers of public office in the United States.

 
William J. Doré, Sr., who rose from humble beginnings to make hundreds of millions in the energy industry, ended up as the biggest donor to the super PAC that kept Rick Santorum’s presidential bid afloat in 2012. Unlike another, Foster Friess, the well-heeled donor to the Red, White and Blue Fund whose comments occasionally led to embarrassing headlines, Doré kept a low profile. He gave no interviews to the press about his $2.25 million in donations.

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Robust Lobbying Disclosure Needed to Address Advantage of the 1% of the 1%

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In the 2012 election 28 percent of all disclosed political contributions came from just 31,385 people. In a nation of 313.85 million, these donors represent the 1% of the 1%, an elite class that increasingly serves as the gatekeepers of public office in the United States.

 
During the 2012 election cycle, a tiny percentage of lobbyists gave a combined $34.1 million in campaign contributions, putting them in elite company with the political 1% of the 1%, individuals who have given at least $12,950 each toward identifiable federal election activities. And while lobbyists’ donations made up only a small portion of the overall contributions from the political 1% of the 1%, their contributions might net the most bang for the buck. Lobbyists more often gave directly to candidates rather than to outside groups; and it is to those candidates—when they are elected—that the lobbyists turn when they need help. Shining the brightest light on lobbying activities will expose to the public where the levels of influence are and who is pulling them. Sunlight has developed a set of eight principles that form the foundation of a comprehensive lobbying disclosure regime.

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What lobbyists in the 1 percent of the 1 percent want (Hint: a lot)

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1% of the 1% logo

In the 2012 election 28 percent of all disclosed political contributions came from just 31,385 people. In a nation of 313.85 million, these donors represent the 1% of the 1%, an elite class that increasingly serves as the gatekeepers of public office in the United States.

 
Compared to other big campaign donors, lobbyists spread their money around. And because they seek access to lawmakers to push for their clients’ interests, they give more of their contributions directly to candidates as opposed to party committees and super PACs. That’s according to a new Sunlight Foundation report on the lobbyists in the “one percent of the one percent,” the rarefied group of about 31,385 well-heeled insiders that give at least $12,950 to political campaigns. So what do these lobbysits want to get done? In particular, what about ones giving the most? Of all the players in Washington’s influence business, here is a list of the 10 who gave more than anyone else in the 2012 election.

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Are the 1% of the 1% pulling politics in a conservative direction?

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1% of the 1% logo

In the 2012 election 28 percent of all disclosed political contributions came from just 31,385 people. In a nation of 313.85 million, these donors represent the 1% of the 1%, an elite class that increasingly serves as the gatekeepers of public office in the United States.

 
The more conservative the Republican, the more dependent that Republican is likely to be on the nation's biggest individual donors, a new Sunlight Foundation analysis of campaign finance data finds. By "biggest individual donors," we are referring to a group we named “the 1% of the 1%” after the share of the U.S. population that they represent. These wealthy donors may be pulling Republicans to the political right, acting as a force for a more polarized Congress. The polarizing effect for Democrats, meanwhile, is unclear. If anything, more liberal Democrats depend a little less on 1% of the 1% donors than conservative Democrats. As we explored in our big-picture look at the 1% of the 1%, the biggest donors in American politics tend to give big sums of money because they want one party to win. Approximately 85 percent of the top individual donors in U.S. politics contributed at least 90 percent of their money to one party or the other. By contrast, less than four percent of these donors spread their money roughly equally between the two parties (a 60-40 split or less).
Figure 1.
the one percent of the one percent and partisanship The above figure treats all Democrats and Republicans as equivalent. In reality, both parties contain some moderates and some extremists. Some -- Ezra Klein, most prominently -- have argued that while small money exerts a polarizing tug on the parties, big money is consensus-oriented and centralizing. At the time, I responded that if big money was consensus-oriented, it was doing a terrible job of building consensus. I went further to hypothesize that big money might also be polarizing. Turns out I was more right than I knew then.

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Despite ethics pledge, Obama accepted K Street money

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1% of the 1% logo

In the 2012 election 28 percent of all disclosed political contributions came from just 31,385 people. In a nation of 313.85 million, these donors represent the 1% of the 1%, an elite class that increasingly serves as the gatekeepers of public office in the United States.

 
In his two runs for the White House, President Obama pledged that he would not accept money from registered lobbyists. But his campaign received donations from people who, while not registered, walk and talk an awful lot like lobbyists, including advisors who manage lobbyists. Sunlight's investigation into the political 1 percent of the 1 percent -- the donor class whose members individually contributed at least $12,950 to political campaigns in the 2012 election -- showed that many, many big donors in the influence business have contributed to the president. At least four dozen of them -- lobbyists and employees of lobbying or public relations firms -- contributed to the president in 2011 or 2012. One officially registered lobbyist even donated and unlike the other registered lobbyists who did so, his contribution was not refunded.

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Lobbyists in the 1% of the 1%

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In the 2012 election 28 percent of all disclosed political contributions came from just 31,385 people. In a nation of 313.85 million, these donors represent the 1% of the 1%, an elite class that increasingly serves as the gatekeepers of public office in the United States.

 
One way that Washington lobbyists build and maintain relationships is through campaign contributions. So it’s no surprise to see 894 individuals employed at lobbying and public relations firms show up among the 31,385 biggest individual donors – a group we named “the 1% of the 1%” after the share of the U.S. population that they represent. Although not all of these individuals are registered as lobbyists, they all work in the lobbying industry. For shorthand, we simply call them “lobbyists” because their profession is influencing government (for more details on how we classified them, see our methodology section at the end of this post). Though these lobbyists make up only 2.8 percent of the 1% of the 1% and only 2.0 percent of the donations (they gave a combined $34.1 million), their importance in the Washington ecosystem makes them worth a closer look. In some ways lobbyists are similar to other 1% of the 1% donors. The median donation among lobbyists was $27,540, as compared to $26,584 for all of the 1% of the 1%. Lobbyists in the 1% of the 1% are 80.3 percent male, a little more than the 71.8 percent male for the entire 1% of the 1%. These 1% of the 1% lobbyists gave a combined $34.1 million in the 2012 election cycle.

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The 1% of the 1% by state

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This table contains data on members of the 1% of the 1%, organized by state. For each column, the colors correspond to the size of the given indicator, with the darkest green referring to the ten states with the largest values, and the lightest green to the ten lowest. Click on a column name to re-sort the table by that column.

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Where the 1% of the 1% money goes

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The figures below break the 1% of the 1% up by deciles, going more in depth for the top decile (the top 3,139 donors) and then in more depth again for the top 314 donors (the 1% of the 1% of the 1%). The major takeaway  is that the biggest donors are the biggest donors because they give primarily to super PACs. Since individual aggregate contributions directly to candidates, parties and committees are legally capped at $117,000 (though some seem to ignore this), to be in the top 314 donors (minimum total of $304,000) requires at least some giving to super PACs, which allow for unlimited contributions.

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The Political 1% of the 1% in 2012

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Graphics by Amy Cesal and Ben Chartoff


 

1% of the 1% logo

In the 2012 election 28 percent of all disclosed political contributions came from just 31,385 people. In a nation of 313.85 million, these donors represent the 1% of the 1%, an elite class that increasingly serves as the gatekeepers of public office in the United States.

 
More than a quarter of the nearly $6 billion in contributions from identifiable sources in the last campaign cycle came from just 31,385 individuals, a number equal to one ten-thousandth of the U.S. population. In the first presidential election cycle since the Supreme Court's decision in Citizens United v. FEC, candidates got more money from a smaller percentage of the population than any year for which we have data, a new analysis of 2012 campaign finance giving by the Sunlight Foundation shows. These donors contributed 28.1 percent of all individual contributions in the 2012 cycle, a record high. One sign of the reach of this elite “1% of the 1%”: Not a single member of the House or Senate elected last year won without financial assistance from this group. Money from the nation’s 31,385 biggest givers found its way into the coffers of every successful congressional candidate. And 84 percent of those elected in 2012 took more money from these 1% of the 1% donors than they did from all of their small donors (individuals who gave $200 or less) combined. This elite 1% of the 1% dominated campaign giving even in a year when President Barack Obama reached new small donor frontiers (small donors are defined as individuals giving in increments of less than $200). In 2014, without a presidential race to attract small donors, all indicators are that the 1% of the 1% will occupy an even more central role in the money chase. The nation’s biggest campaign donors have little in common with average Americans. They hail predominantly from big cities, such as New York and Washington. They work for blue-chip corporations, such as Goldman Sachs and Microsoft. One in five works in the finance, insurance and real estate sector. One in 10 works in law or lobbying. The median contribution from this group of elite donors? $26,584. That’s a little more than half the median family income in the United States. Watch a video summary of The Political 1% of the 1%

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