Sunday, October 11, 2015

The U.S. oligarchs and presidential politics

Posted By on Sun, Oct 11, 2015 at 8:29 AM

click to enlarge HIGH LIVING: The Times assembled these among other aerial views of homes and a map with geographic locations of the super rich givers to presidential campaigns. - NEW YORK TIMES
  • New York Times
  • HIGH LIVING: The Times assembled these among other aerial views of homes and a map with geographic locations of the super rich givers to presidential campaigns.

The New York Times today offers a deep look (more details on-line than in the print version reprinted in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette) at its analysis that shows a mere 158 families have contributed more than half the money raised so far for the 2016 presidential campaigns.

If anything, I think they set their sights low. One hedge fund zillionaire is listed for contributing $300,000 so far. He makes $68 million a month AFTER taxes. That $300,000 is like a contribution of $15 from a worker who makes $3,000 a month.

Yes, there are Arkies in the list, led by Ron Cameron, the Little Rock poultry baron who put $3 million into a Super PAC pushing the rapidly eroding candidacy of Florida tax fugitive Mike Huckabee, who called Arkansas home until big bucks started rolling in.

Scott Ford of Little Rock, whose Alltel and Stephens-related wealth is currently being put to use in part in a growing coffee business, chipped in $250,000. He gave to a Super PAC supporting Lindsey Graham.

I'm surprised Warren Stephens didn't make the Times' compilation. A quick check of Open Secrets shows this list of PAC contributions, not counting individual candidate expenditures. The Right to Rise PAC is for Jeb Bush. Maverick PAC also has Bush ties. Intimidated was a Scott Walker vehicle. American Crossroads was founded by Karl Rove to aid select Republicans. And so forth. He gave another $30,000 or so to individual candidates.

click to enlarge screen_shot_2015-10-11_at_8.13.17_am.png


One interesting local angle. The Times set its cut off for the top families at $250,000 in giving. Michael Morton, the Fort Smith nursing home tycoon, has put more than $1.25 million into Arkansas judicial races the last 15 years — almost $50,000 alone last year to a single candidate for Arkansas Supreme Court, Justice Rhonda Wood. He gets a lot more bang for his bucks than $250,000 to a presidential super PAC, if Michael Maggio is any indication.

PS — The Waltons you ask? Jim and Lynne Walton have chipped in $64,000 to the Republican National Committee. Alice Walton has given Hillary Clinton $2,700.

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