As the US presidential election heats up, 24/7 Wall St. decided to examine the political contributions of public companies in the current election cycle.
Donations include amounts paid to political parties, candidates and political action committees.
The numbers are staggering and have many people wondering if money can buy a seat in the House, the Senate, or even the presidency itself.
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, the Romney Victory Fund and the Republican National Committee raised more than $76.8 million in May alone.
This month does not include what Romney and his supporters have raised for the primaries, nor the growing amount he will need as the presidential election kicks into high gear.
While President Obama raised more money overall, his campaign and the Democratic Party only raised $60 million for his re-election in May.
Political contributions, which used to go directly to candidates, now often go to Super PACs, independent organizations that can raise money to help or defeat a political candidate. Historically, traditional political action committees have been prohibited from accepting donations from unions and corporations. However, following U.S. Supreme Court and Court of Appeals rulings, Super PACs are now allowed to accept unlimited donations from unions and corporations, as long as the money is not directly affected. in the countryside.
The rise of the Super PAC has opened the door to a new generation of fundraising, changing the way money is used to elect candidates and increasing the amount candidates need to raise to be competitive when they run. to a post.
Already, there is evidence of the influence that big companies and their top executives can have. Sometime in January, Las Vegas Sands CEO, billionaire Sheldon Adelson gave $5 million to GOP presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich. Gingrich could not have remained a candidate for the Republican nomination without the money. Adelson went so far as to say in February that he could pass another $100 million to Gingrich and the PACs who backed him. Adelson, with his militant posturing, is unlikely to walk away this political season like Gingrich did. Its total contributions for this election cycle already total nearly $12 million. Some of his contributions came through a tiny methadone clinic owned by him and his wife Miriam. It is perhaps unsurprising then to find Las Vegas Sands, which is run by Adelson, at the top of the list of the ten public companies with the most significant political contributions.
The ten companies on our list operate in different industries. While one would think that financial companies, tied to the federal government through the financial crisis bailout, and defense companies, which rely on billions of dollar in public procurement, would dominate the list, they don’t entirely. Microsoft is on the list; the same goes for AT&T, cable company Comcast and movie studio Dreamworks. In addition to how much each company donated and to which political party, we also added how much these companies spent on lobbying, which is counted separately from political donations. As tempting as it is, we haven’t speculated on the reasons for the corporate contributions.
Based on Data collected and published by the Center for Responsive Politics on its website, opensecrets.org, 24/7 Wall St. identified the 10 publicly traded companies that contribute the most to candidates, political parties and PACs. The Center for Responsive Politics calculates the total political contributions made by PACs or company employees during a given election cycle (beginning January 1, 2011 for the 2012 cycle) that exceed $200. 24/7 Wall St. also reviewed data on lobbying spending, also released by the Center for Responsive Politics. Finally, we relied on the Washington 2012 TechnologyTop 100 for revenue generated by major government contractors.
Companies make the biggest political donations.