Taking advantage of relaxed campaign finance laws, a cadre of deep-pocketed donors are spending gobs of money to bankroll super PACs, a phenomenon that is reshaping the modern election cycle. It is a select group. The top 100 individual super PAC donors make up just 3.7% of those who have contributed to the new money vehicles, but account for more than 80% of the total money raised, according to data from the Center for Responsive Politics. And just the top 46 donors have given a total of $67 million, or two-thirds of the $112 million in individual gifts to super PACs this cycle. Membership in this select group requires a $500,000 minimum donation. So who are these folks?
Donors who have given in excess of $500,000 are a rather homogenous group who represent narrow swaths of American industry. Titans of the financial services industry are well represented, as are energy executives and hoteliers. Almost all are men. Racial minorities are few and far between. So far, the vast majority of their contributions have been made to conservative groups. “We’re looking at a singularly weird phenomenon,” said John Dunbar, the managing editor for politics at the Center for Public Integrity.