Just 50 Families Have Spent $600 Million On The 2024 Elections So Far

More than two-thirds of their donations have flowed to Republican candidates or causes.

Just 50 American families have funneled more than $600 million into the 2024 elections in donations to political parties, PACs and super PACs, a new report has found — a staggering figure that underscores the disproportionate influence the wealthy will wield on the outcome of November’s elections.

The report, from the progressive nonprofit Americans for Tax Fairness (ATF), tracked the top 50 families or individuals, all worth billions, who have pumped the most money into the political system as of early May.

“These 50 billionaire families alone have the political-spending capacity of over 6 million ordinary American families,” wrote the authors, senior ATF associate Zachary Tashman and senior writer William Rice. They based the comparison on the average net worth of the American family and the average net worth of the 50 families in the report, who have a combined net worth of more than $1 trillion.

More than two-thirds, or 69%, of their donations flowed to Republican candidates or causes, including the super PAC supporting former President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign, and Americans for Prosperity Action, a super PAC affiliated with the Koch family that supports conservative candidates. Only 23% went to groups supporting Democrats, and the remainder did not have a clear partisan affiliation.

“That pronounced GOP tilt is a sign that the political spending of billionaire families is largely an investment in preserving familial wealth and power,” the authors argued, noting that many Democrats campaigned on raising corporate income taxes and taxes on the wealthiest 1%, while Republican policies further insulate major fortunes from taxation.

Former President Donald Trump stands with his wife, Melania Trump, as they arrive for a GOP fundraiser on April 6 in Palm Beach, Florida.
Former President Donald Trump stands with his wife, Melania Trump, as they arrive for a GOP fundraiser on April 6 in Palm Beach, Florida.
Lynne Sladky/Associated Press

Jeff Yass, a billionaire stock trader from Pennsylvania and newfound ally of Trump, is the largest individual donor so far this cycle, having given more than $70 million, most of it to the far-right Club for Growth and the PAC supporting the hard-right House Freedom Caucus.

In a close second is hedge fund manager Ken Griffith, who has focused much of his spending on David McCormick, a fellow hedge fund manager challenging Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.), and Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, who is running for his state’s open Senate seat.

LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman and his family are the largest Democratic donors on the list and have concentrated their spending on supporting President Joe Biden’s reelection.

Even among these ultra-wealthy families, political giving was most concentrated at the top. The top 10 families by political donations ― which also include well-known conservative mega-donors such as the Kochs, Ricketts and Uihleins ― accounted for more than half of the 50 families’ overall spending.

Mega-donors owe their ability to shower political causes with millions in donations to Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, a landmark 2010 Supreme Court decision that obliterated most limits on indirect political giving. The decision also enabled donors to make unlimited “dark money” donations, which are not publicly traceable, meaning the total spending by the biggest political contributors is likely much higher than $600 million.

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