By Janel Forsythe
OpenSecrets.org reported that Super PACs have contributed over $150 million to the current primaries. Though these groups were not created by the candidates and national political parties, they support their respective causes. Some donors have been publicly exposed despite the anonymity associated with donating to Super PACs. In this post, I will focus on the people contributing money in support of the GOP candidates.
RESTORE OUR FUTURE: Mitt Romney
- Bob J. Perry - $4 million – This homebuilder from Texas initially supported Rick Perry’s campaign before spending money for Mitt Romney. The Center for Public Integrity claimed he was partially responsible for the former controversy over Senator John Kerry’s military record. They also suspected that he helped President Bush get reelected in 2004.
- Steven Lund – $2 million – Lund is the Vice Chairman of NuSkin, a Utah-based company, which creates skincare products and dietary supplements.
- Julian Robertson – $1.25 million – Robertson was the CEO of the Tiger Management Corporation in New York, which is currently closed.
- John Paulson – $1 million – Paulson, who is President of the hedge fund Paulson & Company, bet money against the subprime mortgage market in 2007 and became a billionaire. His current net worth is almost $16 billion.
- Edward Conard - $1 million – Conard has been a longtime supporter of Mitt Romney because he served as the co-head of Bain Capital for over 14 years. He currently leads Waters Corporation and Sensata Technologies.
- Paul Edgerly – $1 million – Edgerly is a current Bain Capital executive. Bain Capital is a private investment company that was co-founded by Mitt Romney.
- Paul Singer – $1 million - As the CEO of the Elliot Management hedge fund, Singer advocated for New Jersey’s same-sex legislation and originally wanted Governor Chris Christie to run for president.
- Robert Mercer – $1 million – Mercer is the hedge fund manager of Renaissance Technologies in New York.
- Frank Rooney – $1 million - Rooney was responsible for building the current Dallas Comboy’s stadium, and he served as the U.S. Ambassador to the Vatican during George W. Bush’s presidency.
- Frank L. VanderSloot – $1 million - VanderSloot is both finance co-chairman of Romney’s campaign and CEO of a dietary/cleaning company called Melaleuca.
- William Koch – $1 million – William Koch is the head of Oxbow Carbon.
- Mike Fernandez – $1 million – Fernandez heads MBF Healthcare Partners in Florida.
- Some leaders in the for-profit college sector also donated money to “Restore Our Future”. The Apollo Group, which owns Phoenix University, contributed $75,000 to Romney’s Super-PAC last month. James Heavener, the CEO of Full Sail University, gave $85,000 and fundraises for Romney in Florida. Kevin Landry has some financial stake in Full Sail University as head of TA Associates, and he donated $120,000. Todd Nelson, CEO of Education Management Corps., has contributed $5,000. Mr. Nelson oversees the functions of various Art Institutes and similar for-profit institutions; in addition, his wife Amy Nelson gave $50,000. USA Today reported that for-profit colleges enroll only 12 percent of American students but are responsible for over half the debt accrued by the total graduating population. Nonetheless, Romney’s campaign has intricate ties to this industry because his family has investments in Goldman Sachs Capital Partners. This group, which consists of many Romney supporters, has 42 percent of the ownership claims in Education Management Corps.
RED, WHITE, AND BLUE FUND: Rick Santorum
- Foster Freiss – $1.6 million – This faithful contributor to Rick Santorum is a mutual fund investor; he spent another $9,000 on behalf of Santorum’s campaign as of March 30. Recently, Freiss made some interesting remarks in the current contraception debate because he stated that Bayer aspirin was a simple contraception tool women used to put between their legs years ago. However, he thinks there is too much public discussion on sex in the current age.
- William Dore – $1.5 million – William Dore is the head of Dore Energy Group in Louisiana.
- Harold Simmons – $1 million - Simmons has always been supported Republican candidates in presidential campaigns because he paid for advertisements attacking both Barack Obama and John Kerry in his home state of Texas.
WINNING OUR FUTURE: Newt Gingrich
- The Adelsons – $16.5 million – Sheldon and Miriam Adelson are the owners of various casinos and hotels through their Las Vegas Sands Corporation. Sheldon donated to Newt Gingrich for his both his conservatism and views on Israel. Adelson comes from a Jewish family, but his father never visited Israel when he was alive. Therefore, Mr. Adelson funds the group Birthright Israel, which allows Jewish youth to see their spiritual homeland. Gingrich wants move the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, which is a desire Adelson wants materialized. However, he thinks Gingrich will be out of the race sooner than later because he has faced a lot of losses in the current primaries.
- Harold Simmons – $1.1 million
ENDORSE LIBERTY: Ron Paul
- Peter Thiel – $2.6 million – Thiel is co-founder of PayPal and used to invest in Facebook. As the only notable donor to “Endorse Liberty”, he only contributed money in January and none in February. Laura Strickler from CBS News reported that this Super-PAC had spent less money than it received in February, so perhaps Ron Paul may be out of the race soon.
AMERICAN CROSSROADS: GOP Party
- Harold Simmons – $12 million
- Bob Perry – $2.5 million
- Irving Moskowitz – $1 million – Moskowitz is a retired doctor who created a charity in California. He supports Israeli expansion in Eastern Jerusalem.
- A. Jerrold Perenchio – $2.5 million – Perenchio is the former Chairman of Univision, which is a Spanish television channel.
- Robert Rowling – $2.5 million - As CEO of TRT Holdings, Inc., Rowling owns Omni hotels and has ties to the oil industry.
- Dean White – $1 million – White is the CEO of Whiteco Industries, Inc., which is a construction and advertisement company based in Indiana.
Now that I have reviewed all the names, contributions, and backgrounds of these donors, I would like to point out some key characteristics of the Super PAC donors. This information portrays who is – and is not – the average donor. Primarily, most of these men are upper-class and work in the financial, energy, and hospitality sectors. Rather than contribute $10, $25, or $50, they have to give at least $500,000 to the Super-PAC of their choice. According to Charles Riley, these 3.7 percent of American donors have contributed 80 percent of all the money spent so far in the elections. Therefore, racial minorities and women are the least represented in these groups, so they are rare kind of Super PAC donor. Emily Wilkins found women represented only 14 percent of Super PAC donors, which is a reversal of a previously upward trend in female political contributions. Whereas wealthy men prefer to give money to Super PACs, women overwhelmingly support charitable causes.
I think it is safe to say that Citizens United took campaign financing to an entirely new level. The $5,000 donation cap formerly placed on longtime political action committees became unlimited for Super PACs. Meanwhile, just a few people in the American population are responsible for most of the money spent so far in the campaigns. While much of the information in this post may be overwhelming and even uncomfortable, such facts have prompted some Senators to push for a new law aiming to restrain the recent effects of Citizens United. My next post focus on how such money is spent, but I leave you with ProPublica’s music video, Oh, Super PACs!, for now.
Hirschkorn, Phil . “Super PAC donors by the numbers.” CBS News . 22 Mar. 2012. 4 Apr. 2012. <http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-503544_162-57402073-503544/super-pac-donors-by-the-numbers/>.
“The SuperPAC Superdonors.” NPR.org. 21 Mar. 2012. 4 Apr. 2012. <http://www.npr.org/2012/02/13/146836082/the-superpac-super-donors>.