Meet America’s new gatekeepers to public office: 31,385 people who represent 0.01 percent of the nation’s population, but 28 percent of all disclosed political contributions: a cool $1.7 billion.
This “1 percent of the 1 percent” is analyzed in a new report out today from the Sunlight Foundation, a nonprofit and nonpartisan good-government group. The report found these people’s money reached the campaign coffers of every winning congressional seat last year; in fact, 84 percent of House and Senate campaigns took more money from this donor group than from all small (under $200) donations received.
Unsurprisingly, California tops the list of states from which this money comes, at $239 million; next is New York with $210 million, Texas with $198 million, Florida with $119 million and Nevada with $115 million. Lists of all donors broken down by state can be found online.
And Atherton ranked fourth among all U.S. cities, with 97 donors giving $5.7 million.
Sunlight reviewed disclosed donations for the 2012 cycle to federal candidates, party committees, congressional campaign committees, PACs and super PACs. Making the list required at least $12,950 in donations, a number that has increased steadily in recent decades.
“The nation’s biggest campaign donors have little in common with average Americans,” noted Sunlight senior fellow Lee Drutman. “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.”
Of the people on the list, 15,343 predominantly supported Republican candidates and committees while 11,088 predominately supported the Democrats. They’re almost 72 percent male, with the top five listed occupations being retired (4,131), president (2,764), attorney (2,738), CEO (2,671) and homemaker (2,432).