Some political billionaires had a good year in 2014. America's wealthiest political donors, with the exception of Sheldon Adelson, increased their wealth, adding billions more to their fortunes.
Bloomberg tracks the money flow of the billionaires who donate to political campaigns. It found 11 of the top donors added a combined $33 billion to their wealth.
Congress has helped them out, too. The new spending bill, passed in early December, will allow donors to contribute up to $324,000 per year to national party committees. Previously the maximum donation was $32,400.
Fred Wertheimer, president of Democracy 21, wasn't happy with the news. “Republicans and Democratic congressional leaders have chosen to embrace huge amounts of corrupting money for politicians over the interests and needs of the American people,” he said in a statement. He described our political arena as “an unholy alliance to emasculate the national party contribution limits that were enacted to prevent corruption.”
When looking back at the November 2014 election, Democrats out-financed Republicans in the Senate, but the Republicans did the same in the House. Overall, OpenSecrets.org found that Democratic candidates spent $5.6 million while Republican candidates spent $5.1 million, on average.
But who are these billionaires giving money to these candidates?
Warren Buffett, the third richest man in the world, has not been too involved in political fundraising, but has begun to donate to Hillary Clinton, giving $25,000 to her political committee, Ready for Hillary.
Tom Steyer gave the most in 2014, spending $74 million on the midterm election. Most of his donations went to his own super-PAC that tried and failed to re-elect Democrats.
As for the Republicans, Sheldon Adelson is the most well-known donor. Although he lost $8.8 billion in 2014, he still donated more than $90 million to help Republicans in the last presidential election. Charles and David Koch, along with Charles Schwab and Larry Ellison, have historically been consistent donors to the Republicans.
While it is uncertain the exact amount of money billionaires donate to candidates, the one thing that is certain is that as long as people have the ability to spend unlimited money on politics, the billionaires will continue to try to influence election results.