Several billionaires and wealthy executives have invested heavily in the 2022 midterm elections, pushing tens of millions of dollars to both Republican and Democratic candidates and PACs.
The big money donors, many of whom have made their wealth in the technology and finance sectors, have fueled a record flow of donations to political campaigns. Overall, a staggering $9.3 billion is expected to be spent in the 2022 federal election, breaking the previous inflation-adjusted record of $7.1 billion set in 2018, according to a conservative estimate of the OpenSecrets site, which analyzes political spending data.
“We’re seeing a lot more money, more candidates and more political divisions than in 2018,” Open Secrets executive director Sheila Krumholz said in September. “Spending is rising across the board in this medium-term cycle, fueling a polarization vortex that shows no signs of slowing down.”
Big spenders accounted for an estimated 43% of all political contributions during the 2021-2022 cycle, compared to the 20% raised by small dollar donors, the second largest category. PACs have provided 8% of the money raised.
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The biggest contributor of the current cycle is George Soros, a prolific billionaire liberal donor who made his fortune in the financial sector and is chairman of his investment company Soros Fund Management. Soros has funneled more than $128 million into Democratic candidates and left-wing organizations since the start of the cycle.
The bulk of the money came in a single $125 million contribution in September 2021 to the Democracy PAC, a liberal super PAC he created in 2019, according to data from the Federal Election Commission (FEC). The super PAC is linked to Democratic Party PACs and PACs associated with a variety of left-wing causes such as racial justice and abortion.
FEC records showed Soros also recently made maximum donations to Democratic candidates in swing-state races, such as Senators Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev., and Mark Kelly, D-Ariz., North Carolina’s Cheri Beasley, and Mandela Barnes. , who is running to GOP Sen. Ron Johnson in Wisconsin. Soros has also given millions of dollars directly to the Democratic National Committee and Democratic state parties.
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In addition to Soros, Reid Hoffman, LinkedIn co-founder and partner at Greylock Partners; Reed Hastings, the CEO of Netflix, billionaire investor Sam Bankman-Fried, who founded the cryptocurrency exchange FTX; Tom Steyer, the founder of hedge fund Farallon Capital Management and a Democratic candidate for 2020 president; Fred Eychaner, the founder of media company Newsweb Corporation; and Stephen Mandel, the founder of hedge fund Lone Pine Capital, have cash-infused left-wing campaigns.
Steve Ballmer, the former CEO of Microsoft, and Michael Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York City and founder of Bloomberg who became Democrat president in 2020, have each donated more than $5 million exclusively to Democrats.
On the Republican side, billionaires Kenneth Griffin, the founder of the huge market-making firm Citadel Securities, and Richard Uihlein, the founder of the shipping and business supply company Uline, have each spent more than tens of millions of dollars on conservative campaigns and organizations.
According to FEC records, Griffin pumped about $57.6 million into Republican political causes during the 2021-2022 cycle. His greatest contributions have come to the Congressional Leadership Fund (CLF), a super PAC that aims to elect Republicans to the House. He has given $25 million to the CLF since 2021.
Griffin has also donated to GOP groups the Senate Leadership Fund, Rick Scott Victory Fund, and the Senate National Republican Committee. He has given to individual Republican candidates including Senator Johnson, Senator Tim Scott, RC, Herschel Walker, who is running for the Georgia Senate, and minority group leader Kevin McCarthy.
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And Uihlein and his wife, with whom he co-founded Uline in 1980, have pushed another $57.1 million in Republican candidates and PACs during its current cycle, data from the FEC shows.
In addition, Nike CEO Phil Knight; Peter Thiel, of Thiel Capital; Jeff Yass, the president of Susquehanna International Group; Steve Wynn, of Wynn Resorts and Valmore Management; Stephen Schwarzman, the CEO of the investment company Blackstone Group; and Paul Singer, president of Elliott Investment Management, have contributed millions of dollars of their own money to help elect Republican candidates across the country.
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Although Knight was not a major Republican donor in previous elections, he gave $1 million to Oregon Republican nominee Christine Drazan last month, Willamette Week reported. The billionaire businessman had previously supported independent candidate Betsy Johnson, but switched to Drazan because she is more likely to defeat Democratic candidate Tina Kotek, a far-left former state representative.
“One of the political cartoons after our legislative session showed a person snorting cocaine from a mountain of white,” Knight recently told reporters, according to The New York Times. “It said, ‘Which of these is illegal in Oregon?’ And the answer was the plastic straw.”
Thiel has donated $30.7 million to Republican candidates and groups, the majority of which landed with PACs backing Senate candidates Blake Masters of Arizona and JD Vance of Ohio.