GOP's big investors: Who's really running for president?(Read article summary)
A handful of billionaires are all but funding the GOP primaries. Never before have so few spent so much to influence so many.
Janet Blackmon Morgan/AP/The Sun News/File
Have you heard of William Dore, Foster Friess, Sheldon Adelson, Harold Simmons, Peter Thiel, or Bruce Kovner? If not, let me introduce them to you. Theyâ€™re running for the Republican nomination for president.
I know, I know. You think Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, and Mitt Romney are running. They are â€“ but only because the people listed in the first paragraph have given them huge sums of money to do so. In a sense, Santorum, Gingrich, Paul, and Romney are the fronts. Dore et al. are the real investors.
According to Januaryâ€™s Federal Election Commission report, William Dore and Foster Friess supplied more than three-fourths of the $2.1 million raked in by Rick Santorumâ€™s super PAC in January. Dore, president of the Dore Energy Corporation in Lake Charles, Louisiana, gave $1 million; Freis, a fund manager based in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, gave $669,000 (he had given the Santorum super PAC $331,000 last year, bringing Freisâ€™s total to $1 million).
Sheldon Adelson and his wife Miriam provided $10 million of the $11 million that went into Gingrichâ€™s super PAC in January. Adelson is chairman of the Las Vegas Sands Corporation. Texas billionaire Harold Simmons donated $500,000.
Peter Thiel, co-founder of PayPal, provided $1.7 million of the $2.4 million raised by Ron Paulâ€™s super PAC in January.
Mitt Romneyâ€™s super PAC raised $6.6 million last month â€“ almost all from just forty donors. Bruce Kovner, co-founder of the New York-based hedge fund Caxton Associates, gave $500,000, as did two others. David Tepper of Appaloosa Management gave $375,000. J.W. Marriott and Richard Marriott gave a total of $500,000. Julian Robertson, co-founder of hedge fund Tiger Management, gave $250,0000. Hewlett-Packard CEO Meg Whitman gave $100,000.
Bottom line: Whoever emerges as the GOP standard-bearer will be deeply indebted to a handful of people, each of whom will expect a good return on their investment.
And this is just the beginning. We havenâ€™t even come to the general election.
Non-profit political fronts like â€śCrossroads GPS,â€ť founded by Republican political guru Karl Rove, are already gathering hundreds of millions of dollars from big corporations and a few wealthy individuals like billionaire oil and petrochemical moguls David and Charles Koch. The public will never know who or what corporation gave what because, under IRS regulations, such non-profit â€śsocial welfare organizationsâ€ť arenâ€™t required to disclose the names of those who contributed to them.
And all this comes precisely at a time when an almost unprecedented share of the nationâ€™s income and wealth is accumulating at the top.
Never before in the history of our Republic have so few spent so much to influence so many.