Outside groups are spending record amounts influencing the election this year, with cash going to Republican candidates over Democrats 7 to 1.
Many of the big donors are anonymous, but a few have emerged in media reports. The Daily Beast reveals the players we know—and don’t know—who are bankrolling the spree.
This gallery originally appeared at The Daily Beast and is republished here with permission.
Billionaires David and Charles Koch have become public enemy number one for Democrats after spending millions on bankrolling conservative institutions and causes. The group they founded, Americans for Prosperity, is considered a key backer of the Tea Party movement, helping to train and organise activists. Other causes include a push to pass a referendum in California neutering the state's landmark climate change legislation.
Most CEOs are frightened of appearing too political, but not Massey's Don Blankenship. The mining tycoon has thrown millions of dollars into judicial elections, and some of the judges have later sided with him in key cases. He holds a dim view of government regulations and went so far as to blame them for causing a deadly explosion at one of his company's mines. Last year he bankrolled an anti-regulation rally featuring country musician Hank Williams Jr. and Sean Hannity, presiding over the affair himself bedecked in red, white, and blue. Blankenship and other coal executives reportedly talked about setting up political committees to run ads against candidates who provoked their ire--could some of these mysterious front groups in coal country be connected? We have no way of knowing.
Here's one shadowy group that's been forced to show its true colours. The New York Times investigated Iowa's American Future Fund, which has spent millions on races around the country, and traced its funding to Bruce Rastetter, CEO of a large ethanol business. This is a rare case, however; many similar backers are completely unknown, accounting for more than half of outside spending this cycle.
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