Then-President Donald Trump sits with PayPal co-founder and former Facebook board member Peter Thiel, during a meeting with technology leaders at Trump Tower in New York City on December 14, 2016.
- Billionaires are spending an increasingly large amount in US elections, according to a report from Americans for Tax Fairness.
- Directly following the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling, they contributed just $31 million to elections in 2010.
- By 2020, they spent $2.6 billion bankrolling super PACs and funding their own campaigns.
At a time when President Joe Biden wants to increase taxes on the wealthiest Americans, billionaires are exponentially increasing the amounts of money they’re pouring into US elections — especially on behalf of Republicans, according to a new report on campaign spending trends.
Billionaires pumped just $31 million directly into 2010 federal-level midterm elections, the first national election conducted after the Supreme Court’s Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission ruling, which loosened key political spending restrictions.
By 2016, billionaires contributed at least $611 million, according to the report from Americans for Tax Fairness, a coalition of predominantly center-left nonprofits, unions, and political advocacy organizations.
During the 2020 election, billionaires injected about twice that — $1.2 billion — into federal races. That figure that jumps to $2.6 billion when including contributions billionaires Michael Bloomberg and Tom Steyer made to their own, self-funded Democratic presidential campaigns, the report states.
“Now billionaires and their allies are working even harder to translate their economic power into political clout by flooding elections with cash in support of candidates who will do their bidding,” the report says.
By its own acknowledgment, Americans for Tax Fairness’ report only includes a partial picture of billionaires’ political spending.
The report, for example, it does not account for contributions directly from corporations that billionaires control. It also does not measure contributions to “dark money” nonprofit organizations that are allowed to fund super PACs and make their own electioneering expenditures but are not legally required to publically disclose their donors. Such vehicles are preferred by megadonors such as Democrat-backing George Soros and Republican-backing Charles Koch, who don’t prominently factor into the report.
Of the contributions that are publicly available to see, billionaire Ken Griffin of Citadel Investment Group leads all contributors of both parties in spending during the 2022 election cycle, donating more than $28 million to Republican super PACs.
On the flip side, FTX cryptocurrency exchange founder Sam Bankman-Fried donated $6.5 million to two leading Democratic congressional super PACs.
In March 2022, President Joe Biden floated the idea of an increased tax on people making more than $100 million, taxing the group at a rate of at least 20% on their income.
According to the White House, billionaires currently pay an average federal individual income tax rate of 8.2% — a smaller percentage than many people of modest wealth.
“Big corporations and the super wealthy have to start paying their fair share of taxes. It’s long overdue,” Biden said in September.