2014: Big money politics

The 2014 midterm election was the most expensive in history, but according to Open Secrets, fewer people wrote checks to politicians.

In total, $3.67 billion was donated to candidates, $40 million more than the last midterm election and a couple hundred million short of the 2012 presidential election.

The top individual donor was Tom Steyer at $73.7 million who gave to progressive and green causes. However, we may never know the real numbers because organizations classified as 501(c)(4), such as Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS and the Koch Brothers’ Americans For Prosperity, were not required to report the amounts they donated.

According to the Huffington Post, the Koch Bros. aimed at spending $300 million in this past election cycle. As for Karl Rove and Crossroads, they spent $263 million in the 2012 presidential election and their contributions this past cycle were likely similar.

The significance according to an article in the Washington Post from April 2014 is the congressional candidate with the most money will win 91 percent of the time.

So, if there is a particular candidate who you hope to represent you in Congress or the White House, rather than giving them your vote, how about you give them your money? Keep in mind though that this past cycle the average individual donation was $2,639, which was nearly $700 more than in the last midterm.

All of this would not have been possible, of course, without the Supreme Court decision on the Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission case of 2009. In that decision the Supreme Court declared political spending to be free-speech.

Also, let’s not forget the Supreme Court’s 2014 decision in McCutcheon v. the FEC which raised the limit on political spending and so called “dark money” in politics. Do not worry however, because in his decision, Chief Justice John Roberts said that such political spending does not promote corruption in our political system “or the appearance of such corruption.”

For a breakdown on how these cases have affected spending in politics, check out the infographic below from the Center for Responsive Politics.


[CNN] [Washington Post] [SCOTUSblog]


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