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The top 1 percent of the top 1 percent of the U.S. population—fewer than 32,000 people—are increasingly the gatekeepers of American politics. As elections grow more costly, super-rich campaign contributors grow more powerful.
Last year, according to a report by the Sunlight Foundation and the Center for Responsive Politics, this small group of people accounted for 29 percent of all campaign donations.
Within this group, there were 135 who gave $500,000 or more, 63 who gave $1 million or more, and three who gave $10 million or more. The top giver was Tom F. Streyer, a liberal San Francisco hedge fund manager and environmentalist, who put more than $73 million into anti-Republican PACs.
While most individuals gave mainly to one political party or the other, the elite donors are fairly bipartisan as a group, as the chart above shows.
Wealthy lawyers, environmentalists and executives of non-profit institutions give mainly to Democrats, while oil and gas industry employees give mainly to Republicans. Wall Street gave more than any other industry, with substantial amounts to both parties but more to the Republicans..
The Political One Percent of the One Percent in 2014: Mega Donors Fuel Rising Cost of Elections by the Center for Responsive Politics and the Sunlight Foundation.