Federal Politics

Published — October 24, 2012 Updated — May 19, 2014 at 12:19 pm ET

Ameritrade founder, auto union among top super PAC donors

Donations to super PACs exceed half-billion dollars

Introduction

Joe Ricketts, a billionaire who pioneered online stock trading by founding TD Ameritrade Inc., was far and away the biggest donor to super PACs last month, having given $11.4 million to the Ending Spending Action Fund.

The donations rocket Ricketts to No. 4 on the list of top donors to super PACs, according to data provided by the Center for Responsive Politics and analyzed by Center for Public Integrity.

The amount is equal to about 90 percent of his total giving to the controversial political organizations.

Also entering the top 10 this month is the United Auto Workers union, which, in September, contributed $5.4 million to its super PAC, the new UAW Education Fund. The donations rank it at No. 9.

The top 10 super PAC “super donors” have collectively given about $135 million to these unlimited spending groups so far this election cycle, about 25 percent of the $546 million that all super PACs have raised, according to CRP.

Ricketts and his super PAC pledged to spend $12 million this election with $10 million opposing Obama and $2 million helping Republicans in Congress.

The UAW backs Democrats, especially President Barack Obama, who authorized an $81 billion bailout of Chrysler and GM in 2008. Obama will no doubt enjoy UAW support in Ohio, which once again has emerged as the pivotal swing state in the presidential election.

The UAW super PAC gave $1 million to Priorities USA Action, a super PAC supporting the president.

Super PACs were formed in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision and a lower court ruling that allowed unlimited corporate and union spending on elections. Super PACs collect the funds from donors and spend them on advertising and other materials. The groups are banned from coordinating their spending with candidates’ campaigns.

Among the other big donors last month and over the third quarter were Texas homebuilder Bob Perry, who continues to write seven-figure checks. Perry gave $3.5 million to super PACs in September, including $2 million to pro-Mitt Romney Restore Our Future. Perry ranks No. 3 at $20.5 million.

Second is fellow Texan Harold Simmons, a billionaire businessman who gave $2.5 million to conservative super PAC American Crossroads in September. Simmons, his wife Annette and Contran Corp., which he controls, have given $21.9 million thus far this election cycle.

Casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson and his family are still on top, having given $38.5 million. In early October he gave $1.5 million to a super PAC backing Republican George Allen’s Senate bid in Virginia and $190,000 to the Hispanic Leadership Fund, which has fought for donor anonymity. These contributions move his total beyond the $40 million mark at the close of the next filing period.

Three other unions and two wealthy liberals round out the Center’s list of the top 10 super donors.

The National Education Association (No. 5, $8.8 million), Service Employees International Union (No. 8, $6 million) and AFL-CIO (No. 10, $5.5 million), each increased their super PAC giving during the last month.

Meanwhile, Chicago media mogul Fred Eychaner (No. 6 at $7.8 million) and James Simons (No. 7 at $7.5 million), the founder and former CEO of Long Island-based hedge fund Renaissance Technologies, are the only two Democratic-aligned individual donors to rank among the top 10.

Overall, according to CRP, conservative super PACs have raised nearly $340 million — or about 62 percent of all super PAC receipts — while liberal super PACs have raised roughly $195 million.

Nonpartisan groups, such as the super PACs of the National Association of Realtors and the Cooperative of American Physicians, account for the remaining funds.

For a complete list of the most prolific donors, a set of super donor playing cards and more profiles please go here.

Andrea Fuller contributed to this report.

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SOUTH JERSEYTed SiroisMark SullivanTom LarkinAnonymous Recent comment authors
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Mark Sullivan
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Mark Sullivan

Trump needs to conduct these activities because the entire MSM media, excluding Fox, is campaigning against him 24/7/365.

Didn’t Monica’s boyfriend’s wife and various criminal enterprises outspend Trump by almost 2-1?

CapitalistRoader
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CapitalistRoader

Why wouldn’t he get an early start on fund raising? Hillary outspent him two-to-one in 2016. The Dem’s are the party of big money. The President knows this and is attempting to get a jump on it. Of course the Dem candidate will outspend him in 2020 so it’s only rational that he starts fund raising now.

George Young
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George Young

Oh brother. We just 8 years of the Campaigner – in – Chief. Where was this journalistic rectal thermometer then. Just another article about 2000 words too long that merely takes another slap at Trump for something he far from initiated.

j stevenson
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j stevenson

The big difference between Trump and all the rest is his refusing to accept funds from lobbyists, so they don’t have the White House access they are used to. These are the donors who buy the presidency and are as pixxed off that he won the election as are the media and the Dems. Lobbyists have never been shut out of the WH and Trump has told them he is not for sale.

jan v
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jan v

all the lobbyists are running all our government agencies and all the career civil servants who know how to run the country have been fired. YOU think this is a good thing ? what a crock…

thomas alessi
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thomas alessi

I am for Trump

Anonymous
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Anonymous

Trump needs to be impeached and tossed in prison. Then have the key thrown away so he will never be free. Then he can see how it feels not to have freedom.

Mark Sullivan
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Mark Sullivan

Thank you for the usual insightful leftist low IQ Snowflake response.

barney
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hes not imprisoning them hes sending them back to their country chill tf out

SOUTH JERSEY
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SOUTH JERSEY

WHY DONT YOU HAVE FREEDOM?

Tom Larkin
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Tom Larkin

First, something positive. I was happy to learn of empirical information in article. BUT, the article was so slanted against President Trump as to be deemed fake news (“Perhaps Trump just lied.” (Two different issues)). The article mentions that President Trump raised over $67 million, but ended 2018 with $19 million. President Trump spent over $40 million 2016 and 2017. President Trump conducted 57 political rallies. The article notes the hats and T-shirts sold, but NEVER MENTIONS THE INCREASE IN THE NUMBER OF REPUBLICAN SENATORS during a mid-term election that lost the House and the number of political rallies in… Read more »

Ted Sirois
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Ted Sirois

At least Trump is getting donations from willing donors. Fresh from his first election, Obama used billions of our children’s tax dollars to save thousands of union jobs in the car industry and bailed out the banks and many Wall Street businesses. This secured his source of reelection funds for his reelection four years later.

South Jersey
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South Jersey

TRUMP 2020; IS AN AMAZINGLY SMART MAN! VERY ORIGINAL & CREATIVE. I AM HAPPY TO HAVE HIS AS POTUS.

SOUTH JERSEY
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SOUTH JERSEY

THIS ARTICLE WAS OBVIOUSLY WRITTEN BY, A TRUMP-HATE-GROUP. THAT FEELS; IT IS NOT NORMAL TO BE SUCCESSFUL WITH YOUR OWN BRAND NAME. WHEN, IF FACT, IT IS NORMAL! >>>>> THIS IS >>> FAKE NEWS!!! <<<< ie: A PACK-OF-LIES; SPUN INTO; DEFAMATION OF CHARACTER. FOR A SINISTER-AGENDA OF; FASCIST DEMOCRATIC SOCIALIST, COUP D'ETAT

David
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David

Are you on some kind of drugs? Writing in caps makes me think that you are grumpy old fart or a uneducated hillbilly.