Buying Your Future:

Exploring the Influence of Big Money in American Politics


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The following contains information about some of the top donors to Super-PACs, the people who are spending the most money on determining the future of our nation. This list is by no means exhaustive, and is not updated dynamically when the datasets supplying the main page change, and as such is more prone to human error.

Sheldon Adelson:

Sheldon Gary Adelson (born August 4, 1933) is an American business magnate. He is the chairman and chief executive officer of the Las Vegas Sands Corporation, the parent company of Venetian Macao Limited which operates The Venetian Resort Hotel Casino and the Sands Expo and Convention Center. He also owns the Israeli daily newspaper Israel HaYom. Adelson's initial public offering of Las Vegas Sands occurred in December 2004. He is listed in the Forbes 400 as the eighth wealthiest American. His personal wealth is estimated to be $24.9 billion as of March 2012.

Originally a Democrat, Adelson became a Republican as his wealth increased. "Why is it fair that I should be paying a higher percentage of taxes than anyone else?" he once asked. He began making major contributions to the Republican National Committee following clashes with labor unions at his Las Vegas properties. Adelson has heavily criticized the Obama administration saying “What scares me is the continuation of the socialist-style economy we’ve been experiencing for almost four years. That scares me because the redistribution of wealth is the path to more socialism, and to more of the government controlling people’s lives. What scares me is the lack of accountability that people would prefer to experience, just let the government take care of everything."

Harold Simmons:

Harold Clark Simmons (born May 13, 1931; Golden, Wood County, Texas) is an American businessman and billionaire whose banking expertise helped him develop the acquisition concept known as the leveraged buyout (LBO) to acquire various corporations. He is the owner of Contran Corporation and of Valhi, Inc., (a NYSE traded company about 90% controlled by Contran). As of 2006 he controlled 5 public companies traded on the New York Stock Exchange: NL Industries; Titanium Metals Corporation, the world's largest producer of titanium; Valhi, Inc., a multinational company with operations in the chemicals, component products, waste management, and titanium metals industries; CompX International, manufacturer of ergonomic products, and Kronos Worldwide, leading producer and marketer of titanium dioxide. According to Forbes, as of September 2011 his net worth was about $9.3 billion.

In 1993, Simmons was fined $19,000 by the Federal Election Commission for exceeding the legal limit of campaign contributions in 1989 and 1990 elections.Between 1993 and 1997, Simmons and family members and Contran gave more than $315,000 to Republican candidates, according to FEC records. As of March 2012, Simmons had given more than $18 million to conservative super PACs, the election's largest single contributor, spread among all the major Republican candidates following the advice of Rove. Simmons said, "Any of these Republicans would make a better president than that socialist, Obama. Obama is the most dangerous American alive ... because he would eliminate free enterprise in this country."

Bob Perry:

Bobby Jack Perry (a.k.a. Bob J. Perry) (born October 30, 1932), is a Houston, Texas homebuilder, owner of Perry Homes, and major contributor to a number of 527 groups, such as the Swift Vets and POWs for Truth and the Economic Freedom Fund.

In the 2004 election cycle, Perry gave $4.45 million to Swift Vets and POWs for Truth (formerly Swift Boat Veterans for Truth), a 527 group founded by 200 Vietnam veterans; he was the largest single donor. The group held press conferences, ran ads and endorsed a book questioning Kerry's service record and his military awards.

Miriam Adelson:

Miriam is the wife of billionaire Sheldon Adelson. Formerly Miriam Ochsorn, she met Sheldon on a blind date and married him in 1991. Miriam is an Israeli physician specializing in drug abuse treatment. The inspiration for Sheldon Adelson's Venetian Resort in Las Vegas came while on his honeymoon with Miriam in Venice.

Peter Thiel:

Peter Andreas Thiel (born October 11, 1967) is a German-born American entrepreneur, venture capitalist, and hedge fund manager. Thiel co-founded PayPal with Elon Musk and Max Levchin and served as its CEO from 2000 to 2002. He currently serves as president of Clarium Capital, a global macro hedge fund with under $700 million in assets under management, and a managing partner in The Founders Fund, a $275 million venture capital fund that he launched with Ken Howery and Luke Nosek in 2005. He was an early investor in Facebook, the popular social-networking site, with a 10% stake acquired in 2004 for $500,000, and sits on the company's board of directors. Thiel was ranked #293 on the Forbes 400 in 2011, with a net worth of $1.5 billion as of March 2012.

When asked about his political beliefs in a 2006 United Press International interview, Thiel stated, "Well, I was pretty libertarian when I started [in business]. I'm way libertarian now." Thiel is listed as a member of the Steering Committee of The Bilderberg Group, a controversial group of influential business and government leaders who meet annually behind closed doors under a media blackout to discuss world issues. Thiel has been a notable contributor to pro-Ron Paul groups.

John Huntsman, Sr.:

Jon Meade Huntsman, Sr. (born June 21, 1937) is an American businessman and philanthropist. He is the founder of Huntsman Corporation and the father of Republican politician and diplomat Jon Huntsman Jr.

His donations of more than $1.2 billion saw him dropped from the "Forbes 400" in 2010. He is one of only 19 of the world's 1,200 billionaires to have donated more than $1 billion. His current wealth is not disclosed; however, he was listed as number 937 on the "Forbes World's Richest Persons" for 2010. He has said that he wants to "die broke" by giving his money away to various charities.

Jeffrey Katzenberg:

Jeffrey Katzenberg (born December 21, 1950) is an American film producer and CEO of DreamWorks Animation. He is perhaps most known for his period as chairman of The Walt Disney Studios when Disney produced some of its biggest hits, including Good Morning, Vietnam, Dead Poets Society, The Little Mermaid, Pretty Woman, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, Sister Act and The Lion King. As a founder and CEO of DreamWorks Animation, he has overseen the production of such animated franchises as Shrek, Madagascar, Kung Fu Panda and How to Train Your Dragon.

Katzenberg has an estimated worth of $800 million according to Forbes. Katzenberg is reported to have donated over $3.5 million in political contributions since 1979: 33% ($1.171+ million) to Democrats, 66% ($2.33+ million) to special interest groups without party affiliations, and less than 1% ($7,000) to Republicans.

Kenneth Griffin:

Kenneth C. Griffin (born October 15, 1968 in Daytona Beach, Florida) is an American hedge fund manager. He is the founder and CEO of Citadel LLC, a Chicago-based investment firm. Citadel's group of hedge funds rank amongst the largest and most successful hedge funds in the world, and Griffin has earned several billion dollars during his tenure at the company. As of 2012, he has an estimated net worth of $3 billion.

When asked if he thought wealthy people had too much influence on politics he explained "I think they actually have an insufficient influence. Those who have enjoyed the benefits of our system more than ever now owe a duty to protect the system that has created the greatest nation on this planet." In 2012, he said he was a Reagan Republican. He also said that "This belief that a larger government is what creates prosperity, that a larger government is what creates good: is wrong."