In my ever-humble opinion, if the 2012 American elections had a theme song it would be this:
(Using a Swedish band admittedly isn’t a very patriotic move on my part, but I could also argue that the current funding system isn’t exactly funded in root American values either. So!)
I think one of the most fascinating stories of the election—especially in a post-Citizens United age—is the green that’s greasing the wheels. Today, I investigate the most obvious yet least straightforward question related to it: where’s it coming from?
You can imagine that this is something of a research burden. How is one lowly college student supposed to track down all of the PACs, corroborate personal donations to bigger organizations, monitor spending by the Romney and Obama campaigns…?
Realistically, this research took all of five seconds, because bigger and better powers did it for me. If you haven’t looked at OpenSecrets.org, it’s a marvel of a website. I tootled on down to these two pages where you can see almost anything your heart desires, if your heart desires monetary information about the elections. One of the things I found most fascinating was the largest donors for the two camps. To stave off that inevitable carpal tunnel that creeps ever closer with each link click, I listed the top ten donors from each campaign below. (You’re welcome.) As OpenSecrets notes, the organizations themselves didn’t donate—the money actually came from the organizations’ PACs, their individual members/employees/owners, and those individuals’ immediate families.
1) Goldman Sachs ($891,140)
2) Bank of America ($667,139)
3) JPMorgan Chase & Co ($662,719)
4) Morgan Stanley ($649, 847)
5) Credit Suisse Group ($554, 066)
6) Citigroup Inc ($418,263)
7) Wells Fargo ($412,250)
8) Barclays ($403,800)
9) Kirkland & Ellis ($393,667)
10) Deloitte LLP ($355,390)
1) University of California ($703,781)
2) Microsoft Corp ($544,445)
3) Google Inc ($526,009)
4) Harvard University ($431,860)
5) US Government ($396,550)
6) Deloitte LLP ($369,401)
7) DLA Piper ($367,027)
8) Stanford University ($326,942)
9) Sidley Austin LLp ($312,278)
10) Kaiser Permanente ($303,163)
If you’d like it in a more visually-appealing form, this slightly-outdated graphic does the trick, with more here:
There’s a whole slew of talking points that crop up from perusing this information:
• Higher education as a political player. While the universities themselves aren’t directly donating, the fact that UC affiliates donated more than the Bank of America or JPMorgan Chase is impressive. Previously, if someone was to ask me who I thought was donating the most, I would’ve gone straight to banks and insurance brokers. Bloomberg has a cute little story about Ivy League campaign donations in which they interview James Fingleton, an assistant professor of surgery at Brown’s medical school and the sole donator to the Romney campaign: “I am a microscopic minority.” Indeed you are, Doctor Fingleton.
• Deloitte LLP. What a nice little bipartisan organization! …what is it? Quoth Wikipedia: “Deloitte is one of the big four professional service firms…Deloitte is the largest professional services network in the world by revenue and has 193,000 employees in more than 150 countries providing audit, tax, consulting, enterprise risk, and financial advisory services.” Unfortunately, a closer look at Deloitte destroys its balanced image: OpenSecrets’ analysis shows that while individuals associated with Deloitte are neck and neck on donations, with $399k to Democrats to $441k to Republicans, Deloitte also has a PAC that is predominantly Republican—1.1 million to Republicans versus 500k to Democrats. While I think the question of why Deloitte in particular is more bipartisan than most on the individual scale is still quite legitimate, ultimately the bankers at the top are still gonna bank. And by bank, I mean donate Republican.
• People like to keep their jobs! A great big shout-out to the US Government employees making prudent, career-savvy investments.
Until next time, politicos!