- The bulk of the Amazon CEO’s donation has gone to a non-partisan super PAC working to help veterans in expensive congressional races.
- Bezos shared that he wants his donations to make an impact “in the here and now” but he also wants to spend his fortune on visionary ideas.
- Other wealthy individuals have spent millions more on campaign contributions this election cycle, breaking spending records.
Jeff Bezos, the richest person in the world, has contributed more money to the 2018 midterm elections than any other S&P 500 CEO. Between Jan. 1, 2017 and Aug. 31, 2018, Bezos contributed $10,159,970, according to Marketwatch. But where or to whom did this money go?
Technically, Bezos has contributed that large sum through several different channels. The vast majority of his donations, however, have gone to the With Honor Fund: $10,129,170 of the $10,159,970 total he’s contributed.
The With Honor Fund is a non-partisan super PAC with the goal of getting veterans elected to Congress. For the midterm election cycle thus far, the With Honor Fund has spent roughly $8.6 million on the 2018 elections, according to OpenSecrets.org. But this expenditure has been split fairly evenly on Democrats and Republicans: $3,667,903 for Democrats and $3,761,301 for Republicans as of Oct. 23, 2018. Bezos is hoping his donation will get new members with different life experiences into Congress.
Why Is Jeff Bezos Contributing to the With Honor Fund?
According to its website, the With Honor Fund is “a cross-partisan organization.” Its focus is to help “principled next-generation veterans in order to solve our biggest problems and fix a Congress that is dysfunctional.” One of the main reasons the organization supports the campaigns of veterans is because the nearly 200 veterans up for election this cycle face substantial financial obstacles. The cost of a campaign can be unaffordable for veterans outside wealthy networks.
Bezos’ current estimated fortune of $143 billion is nearly as much as Bill Gates’ and Warren Buffett’s wealth put together. Yet, Bezos does not have a reputation for their kind of philanthropic activity. Bezos tweeted last year that he was considering philanthropic activity aimed at the here and now: “I’m thinking I want much of my philanthropic activity to be helping people in the here and now — short term — at the intersection of urgent need and lasting impact.”
Bezos’ support of With Honor aligns with that philanthropy goal. In the short term, his donation will help get veterans elected to Congress. In the long term, these new congressmen and women will change the tenor of politics in Washington.
Bezos’ Political Contribution Compared to Other Businessmen
The With Honor Fund has raised a total of over $17 million and has spent about $8.6 million, with Bezos ranked as the top individual donor of outside money to the election, according to OpenSecrets. Although Bezos’ $10 million-plus donation is larger than any other S&P 500 CEO, it’s a drop in the bucket in the grand scheme of political contributions.
By comparison, Richard Uihlein, the head of Uline Inc., a privately held U.S. company which offers shipping and other business supplies, has contributed approximately $33.3 million to conservative political groups. Thomas Steyer, former head of hedge fund Farallon Capital, has contributed over $41 million to liberal organizations.
And finally, the No. 1 individual election donor is Sheldon Adelson — CEO and chairman of Las Vegas Sands and worth $32.4 billion, according to Forbes. He has contributed $87 million to conservative political campaigns for the 2018 midterm election, nearly nine times what Bezos has contributed thus far.
See which states have raised over $100 million for the 2018 midterm elections.
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