Top 25 Political Funders Include Home Depot and the City of New York


Top 25 Donors
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There is a lot of money in politics, from local, to state, to federal elections. But some groups give a lot more to candidates and committees than others. Data was collected from the Center for Responsive Politics on OpenSecrets.org. There is a wealth — pun intended — of information in several categories to parse, including donations by Industry, Lobbying, PACs, Organizations, and 527s.

25. American Crystal Sugar

American Crystal Sugar has donated $727,750 in the 2013-2014 election cycle, balanced relatively evenly between Democrats and Republicans. Sugar may be the most protected industry in the US. Their political spending has seriously ramped up in recent years, increasing over 700% in the last decade. With growing concerns over the state of health care in the United States, many people have wondered why lawmakers have not taken even minor regulatory steps. Diabetes and obesity are a major driver of rising health care costs.

24. Goldman Sachs

The financial giant has donated $743,150 with a distinct majority going to Republicans. Some of their goals are to privatize Social Security and reduce regulations on the financial markets. The company received billions of dollars during the financial bailout in 2008.

In 2012, they donated five times more to Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign than they gave President Barack Obama.

23. Home Depot

Home Depot has donated $764,700 with a distinct majority going to Republicans. They started seriously feeding PACs in 2006. Their primary interest is in candidates, taxes, labor, antitrust, and workplace issues. Twelve out of 14 of their lobbyists have taken trips through the revolving door between government and industry.

22. Next Generation

Now a Super PAC, the former securities and investment group has donated $783,400 to outside groups who then distribute the funds themselves. The group donated $100,000 to Massachusetts junior Senator Ed Markey (D) during his run to fill John Kerry’s vacant Senate seat in 2013, while spending half a million dollars against his unsuccessful opponent, Gabriel Gomez.

21. Elliot Management

Elliot Management donated $790,984 almost entirely to Republican candidates. They are registered lobbyists on the legislation for H.R. 1798, or the Judgement Evading Foreign States Accountability Act of 2011. While the bill enforces behavior of foreign governments in the US, it also restricts access to free trade in foreign capital markets.

20. Honeywell International

The company has donated $828,351 with a slight bias toward Republicans, but much less than previous years. The company is a multinational conglomerate that stretches out in the commercial and consumer markets, while providing engineering services and aerospace systems to the government. There has been a significant escalation in their giving and lobbying in recent years.

19. National Beer Wholesalers Association

Having donating $836,000 in the current election cycle, with a slight bias toward Republicans, the association targets specific legislators and candidates who could influence beer-friendly legislation, and want lower business taxes. They began to ramp up their political activities in 2000 and seem to prefer the PAC route.

18. Credit Union Association of America

CUAA has donated $857,750 evenly between Democrats and Republicans. Their goal has been to reverse the SCOTUS ruling banning credit unions from taking outside members.

17. Comcast

The largest cable TV and internet provider in the US has donated $887,140 evenly between Democrats and Republicans. Comcast lobbied heavily for their acquisition of NBC. Of their lobbyists, 107 of 121 have previously held a job in government.

Net neutrality is an important issue to them. Since 1998, they have spent over $100 million lobbying in Washington.

16. Cooperative of American Physicians

Based in California, the group has donated $890,910 to outside groups. While claiming to be nonpartisan, they overwhelmingly tend to support Republicans. Their “soft money,” or unregulated, contributions skyrocketed in 2012 and they continue to lobby in the areas of health care and tort reform.

15. International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers

So far, the organization has donated $958,965 solidly to Democrats. Besides the obvious support for worker’s rights, collective bargaining, and health care reform, they are for deregulating energy markets, and protecting funding for Amtrak. There was a big increase in soft money spending in the 2012 election cycle.

14. Northrup Grumman

The company with the ambiguous TV commercials has donating $991,370 solidly to Republicans. They are in the defense industry, and the largest builder of naval vessels.

Northrup Grumman is interested in securing government contracts and earmarks. Since 1998, they have spent almost $200 million lobbying. Many have questioned why firms who receive a bulk of their revenue from the public sector are allowed to make political donations to the elected officials who award their contracts.

Others have gone on to ask whether it is appropriate for former elected officials and government employees to then go to work for those contractors. Thirty-five of forty-nine of Northrup’s lobbyists have previously worked for government.

13. Contran Corporation

Crossing the million dollar mark, Contran has donated $1,052,250 to outside political groups who tend to be associated with a conservative ideology. They are an industrial conglomerate. The largest donee by far was former Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie and Republican strategist Karl Rove’s American Crossroads/Crossroads GPS, which is #1 in terms of PAC spending with $176,000,000.

12. Perry Homes

Perry Homes has donated $1,125,400 to outside groups who are overwhelmingly Republican. The largest recipient was Restore Our Future that ran attack ads against Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum during the Republican primaries for the benefit of other candidates, including Mitt Romney and Rick Perry (not related).

Perry Homes of Texas also donated to the Friends of Scott Walker in Wisconsin.

11. Operating Engineers Union

The union has donated $1,136,765 to mostly Democratic incumbents and candidates. They are big fans of big construction projects like oil pipelines, and will even support Republicans to that end. They also favor trade restrictions to protect U.S. jobs.

The organization also lobbies for clean air and water legislation.

10. AT&T

The wireless service provider has donated $1,160,500 and has a tendency to favor more Republicans.

AT&T was once broken up because they were too dominant in their industry. Since 1998, they have spent $276 million on politics. They are now, once again, dominant in their industry.

9. American Federation of Teachers

AFT has donated $1,160,500 to outside groups that are solidly Democratic. The group donates to candidates, and vehemently fought against school vouchers.

8. National Education Foundation

Another big spender in education, NEF has donated $1,547,120 to outside groups that are solidly Democratic. They, likewise, lobby against school vouchers.

7. AFL-CIO

The union has donated $1,866,000 to outside groups that are solidly Democrats. Aside from the obvious support of workers rights, they work to oppose campaign finance laws that would restrict free speech rights.

6. American Federation of State, County, Municipal Employees

The organization has donated $2,151,700 to outside groups that are solidly Democratic. A few issues dear to them are raising the minimum wage, protecting employee benefits, and saving Social Security from being privatized.

5. City of New York

NYC has donated $2,281,067 to outside groups. The largest donation of $1.4 million going to Independence USA PAC, whose biggest candidate donations were for Cory Booker (D-NJ), Robin Kelly (D-IL), and against Deborah Halvorson (D-IL).

Another large NYC donation was to Americans Elect, the unsuccessful attempt at a third party.

4. Every Republican is Crucial PAC

The political action committee has donated $2,584,689. Almost all these funds are distributed to Republican candidates for Congress in comparatively modest amounts.

3. Friends of John Boehner

Like the ERC PAC, the name says it all for this group which has donated $2,584,689.

In the 2012 election cycle this was a small group with only a few hundred thousand dollars in donations. Then came the budget/deficit fight and with it — cash.

2. Carpenters & Joiners Union

The union has donated $2,770,292 to outside groups that are solidly helping build the Democrats’ house. They lobby for pension reform, workplace issues, and tariffs.

1. The Democratic Governors Association

The DGA blows all competition out of the water with $3,576,312 in donations. They distribute funds almost exclusively to 527 committees that while not overtly supporting candidates choose issues that are easily identifiable with those candidates.

What were some names that surprised you from this list?

Just missing the cut on this list, to date, for the 2013/2014 cycle was Google and Lockeheed Martin, in that order.

Democrats and Republicans appear to have a shared monopoly on campaign contributions. If this were any other industry in America, that had only two corporations essentially controlling 100 percent market share, they would be broken up.

Photo Credit: Dragana Gerasimoski / shutterstock.com

Editor’s Note: This list was made with the collaboration of the Center for Responsive Politics on OpenSecrets.org