61 Super PAC Donors Gave as Much Money as 1.4 Million Small Donors to Campaigns

November 14, 2012 | | Center for Media and Democracy |

Just sixty-one individuals gave $285.2 million to Super PACs in the 2012 elections, contributing the same amount as 1,425,500 small grassroots donors to the major party presidential candidates, according to a new report from Demos and U.S. PIRG.

This report, the fourth in a series, focuses on "the overwhelming influence of a tiny number of wealthy donors."

Approximately $1.28 billion was reported as being spent on the 2012 elections, almost half of it coming from the Super PACs made possible by the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Citizens United v. FEC. 60.4% of all the money Super PACs raised in the 2012 cycle came from just 132 donors giving at least $1 million each.

"The only way to stop the flow of unlimited money into our elections and the best way to curb the influence of large donors is to overturn the 'money equals speech' precedent in the 1976 Buckley v. Valeo decision, either by constitutional amendment or by Supreme Court revision," the report's authors write.

Until that happens, Demos and US PIRG offer policy suggestions for the interim.

One proposal is tax credits for small dollar campaign contributions, and matching those contributions with public funds. The report's authors say this would "significantly increase donor participation among non-wealthy Americans," helping small donors to find some parity with the wealthy funders bankrolling Super PACs.