Monday, October 3, 2011

Meet the Wealthy Men Trying to Buy Our Upcoming Election

These are America's best-funded political factions, their war chests filled by some of the richest men (and almost all are men) in the country.

 The hidden infrastructure of the 2012 campaign has already been built.

A handful of so-called Super PACs, enabled to collect unlimited donations by the continued erosion of campaign finance regulations, are expected to rival the official campaign organizations in importance this election. In many cases, these groups are acting essentially as outside arms of the campaigns.

These are America's best-funded political factions, their war chests filled by some of the richest men (and almost all are men) in the country.


Example: John Paulson

John Paulson: A hedge fund billionaire who placed a successful bet on the crash of the housing market, he gave Restore Our Future $1 million. He's given generously to members of both parties for years, and his firm also spent hundreds of thousands of dollars lobbying on Capitol Hill on financial regulatory matters. He was also a major figure in the SEC's fraud case against Goldman Sachs last year, which the company settled by paying a $550 million fine.


More than 80 percent of giving to Super PACs so far has come from just 58 donors, according to the Center for Responsive Politics  analysis of the latest data, which covers the first half of 2011. The Republican groups have raised $17.6 million and the Democratic groups $7.6 million. Those numbers will balloon, with American Crossroads, the main Republican Super PAC, aiming to raise $240 million.)

The exceptions are two public employee labor unions, whose massive donations match those of some of the largest moguls. The rest are individuals with vast fortunes at their disposal. They constitute two different tribes.

The conservative red tribe is dominated by businessmen who have built or inherited fortunes. They also include Wall Street investors, oil and gas men, construction magnates, and retail executives. Mormons are well represented.

The liberal blue tribe is dominated by men from Hollywood and media entrepreneurs -- often Jewish -- and the leaders of the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU).

The Super PACs are not paragons of transparency, but what has been disclosed gives a sense of where the money is coming from and the interests of those giving it. Based on the donors and the origins of these groups, we can already discern what messages the Super PACs will generate in the home stretch of the campaign.

What follows is a pocket guide to the big money tribes of American politics, what they will tell you -- and what they won't.

Continue reading - The funders:

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