After the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United ruling, Democrats predicted a flood of corporate political donations to Republican candidates, but that doesn’t seem to be what’s happening.
Before the decision was even handed down, New Jersey Democratic Sen. Robert Menendez told The New York Times, “Clearly, the Republican Party overwhelmingly would benefit,” while other Democrats talked of a “legislative response” to the perceived threat.
The ruling applied equally to corporations and labor unions, allowing both to make unlimited contributions to political action committees (PACs) that did not coordinate with candidates’ campaigns, but union leaders likewise feared that, “the corporate side will always have more to spend than the union side.”
However, a list on Open Secrets of the organizations that have donated the most money in this election cycle suggests that such trepidation may have been overblown. (RELATED: Obama Tops $1 Billion in Career Political Contributions)
The list is based on “donations from employees of the organization, its PAC, and in some cases its own treasury,” including “all campaign contributions to federal candidates, parties, political action committees [including super PACs], federal 527 organizations, and Carey committees.”
Of the 50 organizations on the list, 31 are either corporations or trade associations, and 16 are labor unions; and while labor unions predictably gave the vast majority of their money to Democratic and liberal groups, corporations did not evince the favoritism toward Republican and conservative causes that Democrats had foretold.
As of October 25, corporate donations to Democrats and liberals totaled about $136 million, compared to about $98 million for Republican and conservative recipients. Labor unions, on the other hand, gave $119 million to Democrats, but less than $3 million to Republicans.
For the most part, corporations tended to spread their donations more or less evenly between Republicans and Democrats, albeit with a few notable exceptions.
The top donor on the list (by far) was Fahr LLC, which gave all of its nearly $74 million to Democrats. This is not terribly surprising given that Fahr is owned by Tom Steyer, who is well known for his support of the Democratic Party—as is George Soros, whose company gave all but $34,000 of its nearly $4 million to Democrats. Steyer is also a major booster of environmentalists. (RELATED: Obama Top Recipient of BP Contributions Last 20 Years)
Their Republican-leaning counterparts, Elliot Management and Renaissance Technologies, gave a combined $20 million to conservative groups, and even managed to find another half-million for Democrats.
Meanwhile, no labor union on the list gave more than $650,000 to conservative causes, and most gave less than $75,000, but all gave millions to liberal groups. (RELATED: NRCC Calls on Dems to Return Campaign Contributions from IRS Union)
The biggest spender among unions was the National Education Association, which gave a bit less than $24 million to Democrats, while the most partisan was the SEIU, which did not give Republicans a single cent out of the more than $12 million they contributed.
The union that displayed the least bias was the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, which gave just under 16 percent of its $4 million to Republicans. The only other union to top 10 percent was the Operating Engineers Union, which gave 10.7 percent to Republicans.
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