Photo By: 
UCOMM with research from Daniel Hinton

Let the Money Games Begin

Brian Young's picture
Jun 17, 2015

The 2016 presidential race is already underway, and along with that comes another race: the so-called wealthy donors primary.

Las Vegas casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, whose net worth of $31.4 billion places him at no. 18 on Forbes' list of the world's billionaires, contributed more campaign funds in the 2012 election cycle than anybody else in American history. Though the total amount may never be made public due to weakened campaign finance laws, Adelson donated at least $98 million, with $30 million going to Mitt Romney's PAC, Restore Our Future, and another $20 million toward Newt Gingrich's PAC, the eerily similar Winning Our Future. This time around, he may beat his own record in what's being widely dubbed the "Adelson Primary."

Apparently, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Florida) currently lead in that race, but they're not alone. Jeb Bush and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie have also spoken at Adelson-sponsored events seeking his political, personal, and, most importantly, financial approval.

Adelson isn't alone, either. Even more notorious are the Koch brothers (David and Charles), who reportedly plan to fundraise nearly $900 million for the 2016 election cycle. Like Adelson, they will likely donate to multiple GOP candidates, but they've thrown their weight behind Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. Adelson is just as bad when it comes to workers orgainzing.  Adelson was the main funder behind a right wing effort in Neveda to ban automatic paycheck deductions for unions.  He also told the Wall Street Journal that the right to organize and fundemental Islam are the two biggest threats to society.  In a 2012, Rolling Stone described his anti union feelings as a "anti union mania."

The Koch brothers have been historically anti union.  During the Wisconsin Right to Work campaign, the Koch brothers where some of the largest backers and donors to Walker.  In fact, they served as some of his biggest donors for both his general election campaign and recall vote campaign. 

A few billionaires, such as  Silicon Valley's Larry Ellison and hedge fund manager Tom Steyer, have donated some of their fortunes to Democrats, too. However, since the Democratic primary is not as up-for-grabs as the GOP's, billionaire financing may be imbalanced between the two.

Nevertheless, it looks like billionaires have more sway in nationwide elections today than they ever have.

The next president will be making important decisions, about rising income inequality, free trade, and protecting American jobs.  With the new influence of money from Anti union donors, who will these politicans follow, the voters or the donors?

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