In 2010, the U.S Supreme Court issued its ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. It said that political donations were a form of political speech, so limiting corporate campaign contributions would be a restriction of speech. America’s corporations have been exercising that speech ever since.
Using data from OpenSecrets.org – which makes clear that “the money came from the organizations’ PACs; their individual members, employees or owners; and those individuals’ immediate families,” not the organizations themselves – here’s a look at who has loudly and proudly, or subtly and pragmatically, supported leading politicians through campaign donations:
Joe Biden, President of the United States
The largest corporate donor to Biden’s 2020 election efforts was Bloomberg, L.P., which contributed $93,848,522. This is above the net worth cutoff of the top 0.1% of the U.S. population. The next largest corporate campaign donor was the Paloma Partners at $9,016,308.
Donald Trump, Former President of the United States
The top GOP corporate donor to Donald Trump’s 2020 campaign was the Las Vegas Sands hotel and casino, owned by his friend Sheldon Adelson. It contributed $45,010,542. Next up was the Adelson Clinic for Drug Abuse Treatment & Research, founded by Sheldon Adelson, which contributed $45,005,600. The largest public company on the campaign donation list was Walt Disney Co. (NYSE: DIS), which contributed $10,589,052.
Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Senate Minority Leader
Although Mitch McConnell wielded about as much power as the president in recent years, his 2020 re-election campaign in Kentucky was considerably less expensive than a nationwide presidential race. His campaign’s two largest corporate donors were tobacco producer Altria Group (NYSE: MO), which gave a total of $142,635, and United Parcel Service (NYSE: UPS), which gave a total of $142,570.
Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Senate Majority Leader
Chuck Schumer isn’t up for reelection until 2022, so his campaign’s 2020 contributors aren’t as big as Mitch McConnell’s. The largest were New York Life Insurance, with $70,783, and Metlife (NYSE: MET), with $38,231.
Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), House of Representatives
It costs less to run for the House than for the Senate. The current darling of the political gossip sites raised $1.5 million for his re-election run, with the largest campaign donations being $25,200 from Equity Group Investments and $15,500 from L3Harris Technologies.
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This article has been updated to clarify that the donations came from “the organizations’ PACs; their individual members, employees or owners; and those individuals’ immediate families,” per OpenSecrets.org.