A $25 million contribution last month from casino magnate Sheldon Adelson was the latest major cash infusion from a megadonor to a super PAC aimed at swaying control of the Senate.
Adelson and his wife Miriam are the top donors to the Republican-aligned Senate Leadership Fund. His donation, disclosed Sunday, brings his total giving to the political action committee to $50 million. Financier and philanthropist George Soros is the top donor to SLF’s Democratic counterpart, Senate Majority PAC. He’s given $10 million to the effort to flip the chamber’s majority.
The giving underscores the outsize influence of a handful of individuals, whose donations are financing a blizzard of Senate campaign ads in more than a half-dozen states. Democrats need a net gain of at least three seats to take control.
The Adelsons and two other Republican donors who’ve given $20 million each — Blackstone Group investment firm head Stephen Schwarzman and Timothy Mellon, heir to one of the country’s biggest fortunes — are responsible for more than half of the $166.8 million SLF collected through Aug. 31.
Adelson, who’s given more than $200 million to Republicans over the last decade, also plans to spend up to $50 million to aid President Donald Trump’s re-election despite earlier questions about whether he would provide money for the president this year, according to a CNBC report.
Soros has given more than $50 million to various Democratic causes overall this election cycle. His money this year has been funneled through Democracy PAC, which receives direct contributions from Soros and from a nonprofit called the Fund for Policy Reform. The nonprofit doesn’t officially disclose its donors, but Soros is its exclusive funder, his spokesman confirmed.
Soros, a major Democratic donor for decades, has been transparent about his giving and motives this year, calling Trump “dangerous” and “a confidence trickster” in an interview last month in the Italian publication La Repubblica.
After Soros, the largest individual contributor to Senate Majority PAC is Newsweb Corp. Chairman Fred Eychaner.
Total contributions for this year’s presidential and congressional elections have doubled since 2016, according to the Federal Election Commission, with record-setting small-dollar online contributions and self-funding candidates in addition to the tens of millions from big donors.
In the battle for the Senate, Democratic challengers have outraised Republican incumbents in several key races, elevating the role of the Republican super PAC to fill the funding gap. The GOP group has spent more than $54 million since Aug. 1, primarily on TV and digital campaign ads, according to FEC independent expenditure reports as of Sept. 21. Most of the money is targeted at races for GOP-held seats in Georgia, Iowa, Maine, Montana, and North Carolina.
The Democratic super PAC spent more than $44 million in that time, mainly concentrating on the same states. The PAC has raised more but also spent more than its Republican counterpart for this election, leaving the GOP a major cash advantage — $126.1 million to $84.8 million — for the final weeks of the campaign.
Super PACs can accept unlimited contributions to support candidates, including money from for-profit companies, unions, and nonprofits that keep their funding sources secret. Both Democratic and Republican super PACs have received large contributions from allied nonprofit groups that don’t disclose their donors.
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