Billionaire power in the 2022 election

The expected backlash against Joe Biden, Chuck Schumer, Nancy Pelosi and the rest of the Democratic leadership is well-deserved.  But it’s unlikely that the Republican leaders will do anything to improve the lot of ordinary Americans.  They are even more dependent than the Democrats on campaign contributions from the billionaire class.

Judd Legum wrote in Popular Information:

Are the 2022 midterm elections for sale? A handful of billionaires are trying to find out. 

Two primary super PACs seek to establish Republican majorities in the Senate and House — the Senate Leadership Fund (SLF) and the Congressional Leadership Fund (CLF). Those two groups, which can accept unlimited donations, collectively raised $188.3 million through March 2022. Nearly half of the money, $89.4 million, has come from just 27 billionaires, according to a new report from Americans for Tax Fairness. 

This figure understates the influence of billionaires pushing to restore Republican majorities in Congress. An additional $40 million in funding to the SLF and CLF has come directly from corporations. Some of these corporations are controlled by billionaires. Koch Industries, for example, has donated $1.75 million to the SLF and CLF and is controlled by billionaire Charles Koch. 

Another $35 million in donations to the SLF and CLF comes from entities organized as non-profits that do not disclose their donors. $18.7 million in funding comes from the American Action Network, a non-profit run by the same group of leaders, including former Republican Senator Norm Coleman, that run the CLF. The source of these funds is entirely opaque. 

The Democratic counterparts to the SLF and CLF, the House Majority PAC (HMP) and the Senate Majority PAC (SMP), raise significant funds from billionaires — but it is a smaller percentage of their total receipts. According to Americans for Tax Fairness, the HMP and SMP have collectively raised $154 million in the 2022 cycle. About $25 million, around 17%,  has come from billionaires. 

The reliance on billionaire dollars by Republicans and Democrats in 2022 reflects an acceleration of an alarming trend in American politics. Since the Supreme Court eliminated limits on so-called “independent” expenditures by corporations and the wealthy in Citizen’s United (2010), political spending by billionaires on federal races has exploded. 

During the first two years of the pandemic, the net worth of the 44 billionaires who donated this cycle to the main Democratic and Republican Super PACs increased by $168 billion. These billionaires are now using a small percentage of their extraordinary wealth to shape the federal government to meet their economic and ideological interests. 

LINKS

Bank of America Memo: “We Hope” Worker Power Worsens by Ken Klipperstein and Jon Schwartz for The Intercept.

Billionaires Buying Elections: How the Nation’s Wealthiest Translate Economic Power Into Political Clout by Americans for Tax Justice.

The billionaires buying the midterm elections by Judd Legum for Popular Information.

How corporate cash could make an extremist the next Governor of Pennsylvania by Judd Legum and Rebecca Crosby for Popular Information.

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