The SuperPAC finance reports are finally out. Any doubt that they’re horrible for democracy and a boon to plutocracy should be put to rest by just a quick perusal of the report of Restore Our Future, the SuperPAC aligned with Mitt Romney.
Restore our Future reports contributions of $17,947,952.77, but only 181 contributors. Of those, there are a handful who gave very small amounts; 7 gave $300 or less (including one goof who gave $17.76). If you take out those token small donors, that means the average contribution to Romney’s SuperPAC was a whopping $103,145.89. Since the maximum amount an individual donor can give to a federal candidate in a primary election is $2,500, the average donation to Romney’s SuperPAC is equal to maximum contributions from forty-one different donors.
But if you dig a bit deeper, it’s even worse. Many of the donors gave comparatively small amounts, like $5,000 and $10,000. The average donation is so large because of huge donations by a small number of people and corporations. Only 27 of the 174 non-token donors–12 of those donors being corporations–gave more than the average, but many gave spectacular amounts. Four divisions of Melaleuca, an Amway-like company owned by an ultra-conservative Mormon who’s thrown around money protesting homosexuality and other supposed evils, gave a total of $1 million. A former hedge fund manager named Julian Robertson–who supports stem cell research and signed up with Warren Buffett and Bill Gates to champion charitable giving–gave a million. A million came from Rooney Holdings, a construction firm that built the George W Bush library and the Cato Institute’s headquarters. Another million came from Paul Singer, a hedge fund manager who was both a major backer of Swift Boat Veterans for Truth and one of the prime forces behind the passage of New York’s gay marriage law; he funds the party that hates his gay son, putting the lie to the notion that people with lots of money are smart about politics. There are also significant contributions from William Koch, various members of the Walton/WalMart family and some Bain partners.
Defenders of Romney and his SuperPAC may contend that they’re just trying to match the prodigious fundraising of President Obama, whose campaign reported raising $68 million in the last three months of 2011. But there’s a fundamental difference between Romney’s crew of ultra-wealthy trying to buy an election Obama’s campaign raising massive amounts of money from a massive number of individuals.
Mitt Romney, who makes $10,000 bets and thinks $371,000 is not much money, is being backed a SuperPAC funded by donors who gave an average of $103,000. Barack Obama’s being backed by a campaign funded by 583,000 donors, whose average contribution was $55. The candidate of the one percent is on path to get the Republican nomination because of the spending of a SuperPAC that doesn’t have even one percent of the donors who contributed to Barack Obama’s campaign in the last quarter of 2011.