News Release

The Billionaire’s Election, The Sanders Exception

61LyMHRA+pL._UX250_The Hill reported this weekend: “Billionaire George Soros contributed $6 million to a super-PAC supporting Hillary Clinton last month, according to the committee’s latest financial statement.”The Washington Post — now owned by Amazon founder billionaire Jeff Bezos — has attacked Bernie Sanders in repeated editorials in recent days. See pieces by economist Dean Baker for the media watch group FAIR and journalist Adam Johnson for AlterNet.

CRAIG HOLMAN, cholman at citizen.org, @CBHolman
Campaign finance and governmental ethics specialist for Public Citizen, Holman has written extensively on money in politics, including his recent piece “A Matter of Trust: Slowing Wall Street’s Revolving Door.”

NOMI PRINS, via Jaime Leifer, jaime.leifer at publicaffairsbooks.com, @nomiprins
Prins, a TomDispatch regular, is the author of six books, including All the Presidents’ Bankers: The Hidden Alliances That Drive American Power.

She just wrote the piece “Democracy of the Billionaires: The Most Expensive Election Ever Is A Billionaire’s Playground (Except for Bernie Sanders),” that gives a synopsis of each candidate, including:

Hillary Clinton: A Dynasty of Billionaires

“Hillary and Bill Clinton earned a phenomenal $139 million for themselves between 2007 and 2014, chiefly from writing books and speaking to various high-paying Wall Street and international corporations. Between 2013 and 2015, Hillary Clinton gave 12 speeches to Wall Street banks, private equity firms, and other financial corporations, pocketing a whopping $2,935,000. And she’s used that obvious money-raising skill to turn her campaign into a fundraising machine.

“Hillary has recently tried to distance herself from a well-deserved reputation for being close to Wall Street, despite the mega-speaking fees she’s garnered from Goldman Sachs among others, not to speak of the fact that five of the Big Six banks gave money to the Clinton Foundation. She now claims that her ‘Wall Street plan’ is stricter than Bernie Sanders’s. (It isn’t. He’s advocating to break up the big banks via a twenty-first-century version of the Glass-Steagall Act that Bill Clinton buried in his presidency.) To top it off, she scheduled an elite fundraiser at the $17 billion ‘alternative investment’ firm Franklin Square Capital Partners four days before the Iowa Caucus. So much for leopards changing spots. …

Bernie Sanders: No Billionaires Allowed

“Bernie Sanders has stuck to his word, running a campaign sans billionaires. As of October 2015, he had raised an impressive $41.5 million and spent about $14.5 million of it.

“None of his top corporate donors are Wall Street banks. What’s more, a record 77 percent of his contributions came from small individual donors, a number that seems only destined to grow as his legions of enthusiasts vote with their personal checkbooks. …

Ted Cruz: Most “God-Fearing” Billionaires

“Yes, it’s true the Texas senator ‘goofed’ in neglecting to disclose to the Federal Election Commission (FEC) a tiny six-figure loan from Goldman Sachs for his successful 2012 Senate campaign. (After all, what’s half-a-million dollars between friends, especially when the investment bank that offered it also employed your wife as well as your finance chairman?) As The Donald recently told a crowd in Iowa, when it comes to Ted Cruz, ‘Goldman Sachs owns him. Remember that, folks. They own him.’ …

Marco Rubio: Most Diverse Billionaires

“The bulk of his money comes from super PACs and large contributors. Small individual contributors donated only $3.3 million to his coffers; larger individual contributions provided $11.3 million. Goldman Sachs leads his pack of corporate donors with $79,600. …

“He has also amassed a healthy roster of billionaires including the hedge-fund ‘vulture of Argentina’ Paul Singer who was the third-ranked conservative donor for the 2014 election cycle. Last October, in a mass email to supporters about a pre-Iowa caucus event, Singer promised, ‘Anyone who raises $10,800 in new, primary money will receive five VIP tickets to a rally and five tickets to a private reception with Marco.’ …

“Rounding out his top three billionaires is Oracle CEO Larry Ellison, who ranks third on Forbes’s billionaire list. Last summer, he threw a $2,700 per person fundraiser in his Woodside, California, compound for the candidate, complete with a special dinner for couples that raised $27,000. If Rubio somehow pulls it out, you can bet he will be the Republican poster boy for Silicon Valley. …

Jeb Bush: Most Disappointed Billionaires

“Although the one-time Republican front-runner’s star now looks more like a black hole, the coffers of ‘Jeb!’ are still the ones to beat. He had raised a total of $128 million by late November and spent just $19.9 million of it. Essentially none of Jeb’s money came from the little people (that is, us). Barely 4 percent of his contributions were from donations of $200 or less. …

Donald Trump: I Am A Billionaire

“Last July, a Make America Great Again super PAC emerged, but it shut down in October to honor Trump’s no super PAC claim. For Trump, dealing with super PAC agendas would be a hassle unworthy of his time and ego. (He is, after all, the best billionaire: trust him.) Besides, with endorsements from luminaries like former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin and a command of TV ratings that’s beyond compare, who needs a super PAC or even his own money, of which he’s so far spent remarkably little? …”