The Financiers Of 2012

January 11th, 2012 - D. Stone

2011 was partially defined, politically, by the Occupy Wall Street Movement. Barack Obama was one of the country's most financed political candidates in 2008. His fundraising machine of 2008 broke records. Historically, Obama also received more financial contributions from Wall Street than any other presidential candidate. Today, with the OWS Movement simmering down, the issue of Wall Street financing is a permanent one. Unlike 2008, this time there will be more scrutiny on who, and what, is the source for a majority of 2012 campaign funding.  

For his re-election bid, Obama has over 61 million dollars of cash on hand, according to the website, Open Secrets, which monitors election financing and donations.  As of September 30, Mitt Romney has just over 14.6 million dollars worth of cash on hand. So far, Goldman Sachs has been the biggest Wall Street financier of all, contributing more than 2.2 million to Romney's presidential bid. Romney's campaign has gone on to raise a total of 32 million so far, 91% of which has come from large companies, corporations, and organizations.

Citigroup is the second highest Wall Street contributor, spending nearly 30 million on political contributions since 1989. The company has evenly split its contributions between Democrats and Republicans over the years. Goldman Sachs, on the other hand, has contributed over 36 million since 1989 and 60% of that has gone to Democrats. The American Banker's Association has contributed over 25 million since '89 and 60% has gone to Republicans. Between Goldman Sachs and Citigroup alone, the Democrats have received 35 million, while the Republicans have received about 28 million.

The biggest issue of 2012 financing may not be so much about where the financiers have their offices, but about who they are.

The Altria Group, formerly known as Philip Morris, is one of America's largest tobacco companies. The company has gained past notoriety for lobbying the U.S. government and trying to convince the American people that tobacco smoke is neither harmful nor addictive. Since '89, Altria Group has contributed more than 25 million, 72% of which has gone to Republicans. Time Warner, one of the largest media companies in the world, has contributed more than 20 million, 71% of which has gone to Democrats. Companies on Wall Street, like JP Morgan Chase, Bank Of America, Morgan Stanley, and Deloitte have all donated between 15-25 million a piece and equally split most of their contributions between Democrats and Republicans. Defence contractors and manufacturers like Lockheed Martin and Boeing have also contributed over 20 million a piece, both equally splitting between both parties.

Oil and gas giants like Exxon Mobil and Chevron have already contributed 1.5 million together during this election season, over 90% of that to Republicans. The well known National Rifle Association has spent over 200 thousand so far on Republicans, mostly members of Congress but some on 2012 presidential candidates.

The Democrats receive most of their contributions from worker's unions and union-backed Political Action Committees. The top union contributor for the Democrats is The American Federation Of State, County, And Municipal Employees, which has contributed over 46.3 million to political candidates since 1989, 94% of which went to Democrats. The Teamsters Union has contributed over 31.4 million and given 89% of it to Democrats.

During the 2012 race, thus far, Democrats and Obama have received contributions from unions as well as the entertainment industry and other groups. Steven Speilberg's Dreamworks Animation SKG has contributed over 2 million dollars while Comcast has contributed over 500 thousand to Democrats and the Weinstein Company over 600 thousand. Planned Parenthood has contributed over 130 thousand to Democrats in 2011-12. The International Brotherhood Of Electrical Workers has contributed nearly 1.3 million since mid 2011.

As for personal and private donations, 70% of Romney donors are men while Obama sports a more even gender representation with 56% men and 44% female.

As we edge further into 2012's election season, we can't help but ask whether or not labour unions, media moguls, and special interest groups will come under the same scrutiny for their financial support of political candidates as corporations and banks. Five of the top ten political contributors are unions or union-backed PACS. In total, the Democrats have received more than 100 million from such financiers; far less than what Republicans have received.

Union influence can become a significant issue in 2012, as the sheer amount of money that has come from trade and labour unions is, in fact, vast when compared to what has come from single defense contractors, banks, and various other sources.