Big Money Donors

In what passes for common wisdom among the Left, the big money donors to politicians are those “evil” corporations that “not-so-secretly run America” and the Republican party is their well-paid tool. This is axiomatic among Liberals. It’s a mantra they chant and was one of the major planks of President Obama’s 2008 campaign.

As is not too surprising given their track record in such matters, the Liberals are either wrong or mendacious on both the source of campaign contributions and the breakdown of the recipients thereof. Thankfully for those interested in the truth, has compiled a summary of the 100 all-time top donors from 1989 – 2008 based upon the data released by the Federal Election Commission (FEC) on May 12, 2009. I’ve tabulated the top 25 donors below:

Organization Total Dem % Rep %
AT&T Inc $43,501,240 44% 55%
American Fedn of State, County & Municipal Employees $40,965,173 98% 01%
National Assn of Realtors $35,179,013 48% 51%
Goldman Sachs $31,183,662 64% 35%
Intl Brotherhood of Electrical Workers $30,920,696 97% 02%
American Assn for Justice $30,734,429 90% 09%
National Education Assn $29,908,625 92% 06%
Laborers Union $28,201,600 92% 07%
Service Employees International Union $27,510,257 95% 03%
Teamsters Union $27,402,304 92% 06%
Carpenters & Joiners Union $27,368,258 89% 10%
Communications Workers of America $26,748,746 99% 00%
Citigroup Inc $26,562,905 50% 49%
American Medical Assn $26,213,449 39% 60%
American Federation of Teachers $25,996,071 98% 00%
United Auto Workers $25,767,002 98% 00%
Machinists & Aerospace Workers Union $24,793,477 98% 00%
National Auto Dealers Assn $24,048,808 31% 68%
Altria Group $23,869,891 28% 71%
United Food & Commercial Workers Union $23,742,074 98% 01%
United Parcel Service $23,649,476 36% 63%
American Bankers Assn $21,945,966 41% 58%
National Assn of Home Builders $21,401,355 35% 64%
EMILY’s List $20,984,384 99% 00%
National Beer Wholesalers Assn $20,300,845 31% 68%
Note: percentages of Dem: Rep donations total up to 99% each due to unlisted minor party and independent recipients of campaign donations

In the past 19 years the top 25 donors to political campaigns have given a total of $688,899,706 to politicians’ war chests. $497,435,208 (72.21%) was given to Democrats and $182,961,723 (26.56%) was given to Republicans. So Democrats received almost three times as much in campaign donations from the top 25 donors as the Republicans did during the same 19 years.  So much for the Liberals’ dogma that the GOP is the party who’s “bought and paid for.”

In fact, and despite the Left’s cant, only five (5) of the top 25 donors were corporations in the first place, two of which, At&T and Citigroup, were fairly non- or bipartisan in their donations, two of which, Atria Group and UPS, favored Republicans, and one, Goldman Sachs, favored Democrats for its donations:

  1. AT&T (D44% : R55%)
  2. Goldman Sachs (D64% : R35%)
  3. Citigroup (D50% : R49%)
  4. Altria Group (D28% : R71%)
  5. UPS (D36% : R63%)

In total these corporations donated $148,946,091 to political candidates, approximately 21.62% of the $688,899,706 donated by the top 25 en total. 55% of which was donated to Republicans and 45% to Democrats. That’s a fairly even split – only a 10% margin – between the two parties. So even what few corporations made the top 25 list of donors did not, as a whole, tend to support Republican candidates.

On the other hand, while corporations were not heavily represented in the top 25 all-time top donors from 1989 – 2008,  labor unions were.  Twelve of the top 25 donor over the last 19 years were labor unions; that’s just under 50% of those top 25. Together they donated $339,324,283, approximately 49% of the $688,899,706 donated by the top 25 en total. Of that $339,324,283 in campaign contributions these labor unions donated 95.51% ($324,076,875) to Democrats.

Eight of the top 25 donor were political action committees (PACs) representing various groups of professionals from various key sectors of the American economy.

  1. National Assn of Realtors (D48% : R51%)
  2. American Assn for Justice (D90% : R09%)
  3. American Medical Assn (D39% : R60%)
  4. National Auto Dealers Assn (D31% : R68%)
  5. American Bankers Assn (D41% : R58%)
  6. National Assn of Home Builders (D35% : R64%)
  7. National Beer Wholesalers Assn (D31% : R68%)

Together these PACs donated $179,823,865, approximately 26.10% of the $688,899,706 donated by the top 25 en total. 57% of which was donated to Republicans and 42% to Democrats. That’s a 15% margin in favor of Republicans. Realtors and Bankers were fairly evenly split in their support, doctors, car & truck dealers, home builders, and beer distributors favored Republican candidates, and attorneys specializing civil litigation very strongly preferred Democratic candidates.

It’s very, telling that “ambulance chasers,” dead set against any sort of tort reform, prefer Democrats over Republicans by a 9-to-1 margin. This is important to note during the healthcare debate.

Finally there is the lone statistical outlier in the top 25 all-time top donors from 1989 – 2008, EMILY’s List. EMILY’s List (Early Money is Like Yeast) is a Feminist PAC who’s sole aim is to support elect pro-choice female Democrats. Obviously all, or nearly all, of their donations go to said Democrats.

The FEC lists them as having donated $20,984,384 to Democratic candidates over the last 19 years, but a great deal of their donations are come in comes in donations below the $200 threshold for reporting. This means that their actual donations far exceed what the FEC reports.


So who’s “bought and paid for” and by whom were they purchased? Republicans over the last 19 years have received $182,961,723 in donations; Democrats have received $497,435,208. Republicans have received donations from a broad spectrum of sources, though few segments thereof have shown a very strong preference for them. Democrats have received donations primarily from labor unions, trial attorneys specializing in lawsuits, and Feminists whose agenda is protecting abortion.

I think that, after looking at the facts, it’s crystal clear to anyone willing to look who’s been purchased and it’s not the Republicans.

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11 Responses to “Big Money Donors”

  1. Christopher Says:

    This is fascinating. sheds more light on the concept of Corporatocracy. CRP seems legit — sharing now. Great piece!

  2. jonolan Says:

    Thank you, Christopher, and welcome to Reflections From A Murky Pond. I hope you’ll continue to stop by from time to time.

  3. ichabod Says:

    Hi jonolan;

    This is an eye opener.

    For me personally I don’t believe in a “party” system. It is like a government within a government, or power structure within a government all to its own.

  4. jonolan Says:

    Actually, ichabod, the results were somewhat of a shock to me as well. I knew that the corporations were too pragmatic to solely back Republicans and the the Labor Union aka Soviets were focused on the Dems. I didn’t know just how much those Labor Unions had donated though over the years.

    It’s the scope of the things that was the shock for me.

  5. zhann Says:

    Interesting set of facts. For this last campaign, it definitely holds true. Obama spent a great deal more than McCain. However, lets not forget that the situation was very different in the Bush elections.

    Also, just curious, but what about the Oil companies? Another major investor in campaigns are foreign nationals (such as China and the Saudis). I am not sure how they contribute, or if this is closely monitored, but Chinese interests contributed heavily to the Clintons while the Saudi’s are very Republican in their contributions.

  6. jonolan Says:


    These number are a total for the last 19 years; that includes the Bush campaigns.

    The Oil companies and any PACs that might represent them, despite all the hype, didn’t make the Top 25 donors list.

    As for any foreign contribution – those would be illegal and not tracked. In point of fact, only Obama has been reported to have received foreign campaign contribution. Other candidates politicians – normally incumbents – have received foreign donation to various pet projects, but not directly to campaigns.

  7. zhann Says:

    In that case, how was Bush’s spending so far beyond Kerry’s and also slightly beyond Gore?

    Likewise, lets not be naive, illegal or no, there were few that denied that China supported Bill Clintons campaign … as well as Hillaries bid. As for the Saudi’s, there are few that doubt their financial support for the Bushes.

    These statistics simply hint that the Democrats money is more transparent … while this, too, is doubtful. In reality, however, campaign contributions can be scattered thin so that they are untrackable for those that don’t want to be tracked.

  8. jonolan Says:


    I don’t have compiled numbers for those election cycles so I cannot accurately answer your question as how Bush’s campaign spent more than Gore’s or Kerry’s – or even if it actually did so.

    Also, these stats are for donations in general, not just the presidential elections. The shift in the top donors and who they donated to in 2008 (see here) does, however support your hypothesis that in 2000 and 2004 similar but opposite shifts might have occurred.

    As for the concealed donations – that is an ongoing bipartisan problem and not one that I’m ever going to have numbers for.

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  10. Hydrolyze Says:

    I have recently been seeking all about for this particular stuff. Thankfully I just noticed this on Google.

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