Since it's New Year's Eve, I thought we should honor those billionaires who had so much money they knew they could afford to step up and toss it away on wingnuts and Mitt Romney.
To their credit, these are the billionaires who put a lot of money up under the Klieg lights, rather than snuffling around the dark money labyrinth, though it is entirely possible they tossed at least as much out on the dark money trail as they did in the light.
To arrive at these numbers, I went through the top 50 Federal SuperPACs, downloaded the data, and captured anyone who gave $100,000 or more to right wing SuperPACs, whether for the primary or general election. These numbers would include only giving to federally disclosed SuperPACs, and not 501(c)(4) organizations or state contributions to specific candidates. While I'm certain we would discover many more dollars flowing through into state elections, that's a job that would take more hands than I have.
You can see the entire list here, but I'll list the top ten for your enjoyment. Some names you will know; others you won't. A couple came as a surprise to me.
- $43,325,000: Sheldon Adelson. Yes, our favorite Las Vegas billionaire wins the prize for the most generous buyouts in federal politics from primary through the general election. His name appeared at the top of nearly every conservative SuperPAC I reviewed. He was at every damn table in the election. What a guy.
- $41,825,000: Dr. Miriam Adelson. Sliding in just a couple of million under Sheldon, Mrs. Adelson was equally generous and to the same groups, for the most part. The Adelson daughters also did their part with a million or so each, but since we're looking on a per person, rather than per family basis, the Adelsons capture the Number One and Two spots on the hit parade.
- $29,200,000: Harold Simmons and Contran. Some checks came from Contran; others from Simmons. Since Simmons is the guy controlling Contran, he got credit for their contributions and his own, bringing him into the number three position. Simmons, you may recall, spent $4 million for the SwiftBoat operation against John Kerry in 2004. Back then, we thought that was an obscene amount of money. Now he doesn't even get the number one or two spot for nearly $30 million. Simmons wins the top Texas donor slot, though he's not the only Texan in our Top Ten.
Annette Simmons kicked in $1.2 million to Rick Santorum, but doesn't make the top ten list for that, just a mere mention next to her husband's $29.2 million.
- $22,100,000: Bob Perry. Coming in fourth is our other favorite Texan, Bob Perry, builder, swiftboater and Texas billionaire, who would have you believe he's just a good ole boy who grew up and started building houses one day. Now Bob Perry is well known for his giving largesse to the Republican Governors' Association and state races, too. It's possible that if we were to tally those in, he'd lead the pack. But for this contest, he comes in at number 4.
- $13,090,000: J. Joe Ricketts. Yes, our favorite bigot, Romney pal, and TD Ameritrade founder takes the number 5 slot. Ricketts, you may recall, thought it would be really cool to revive the Reverend Wright smear in the 2012 elections. There was a proposal written up and everything, but then it came out in public and he abandoned that idea. He did, however, give a lot of money toward Dinesh D'Souza's hate flick. That isn't reflected here, since I'm sure it went through Americans for Prosperity or Citizens United.
Ricketts is also the last of the eight-figure public billionaires on the list. Beginning with number six, there's a sharp decline in totals. I'm certain if we ever get any sunlight on 501(c)(4) organizations, we'd learn about lots more gifts from the same people to those organizations, but again...we're just looking at SuperPACs with federal disclosure now.