Indictment of U.S. Democracy
Spending on the
November 2020 U.S. elections broke all previous records according to
the U.S. Federal Election Commission. The two main cartel parties, the
Republican and Democratic parties, spent the bulk of the total $14
spending during the presidential election cycle included spending to
win the White House, 35 Senate seats and 435 seats in the House of
The presidential candidates of the
two cartel parties spent $6.6 billion, which far exceeds the $2.4
billion in the 2016 presidential race.
presidential candidate Joe Biden was the first candidate in history to
raise $1 billion from "donors." Incumbent President Donald Trump raised
$596 million. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, national
groups organized as Political Action Committees (PACs) were behind much
of the spending. Spending by PACs on advertising during the month of
October alone was $1.2 billion, with more of the money going to Biden
Sarah Bryner, research director
at the Center for Responsive Politics, said that with the creation of
Super-PACs 10 years ago, those connected with the Republican Party
"were the quickest to jump on the newly permissible outside groups as a
way to facilitate huge donations."
In the recent election, groups
associated with the Democratic Party "have more than made up the
difference," Bryner said. The Democrats overtook the Republicans in the
"money race" in the 2018 election cycle and increased their domination
in 2020. PACs alone spent $5.5 billion for the Democratic Party and
$3.8 billion for the Republicans in the recent election.
went increasingly online to Facebook and Google with over $1 billion
spent on the 2020 election to advertise on those social media
platforms, according to OpenSecrets' online ads database, which is
connected with the Center.
The Center reports that
out-of-state donors were important in certain congressional races. In
the so-called swing states of Arizona, North Carolina and Iowa, the
vast majority of election money came from outside those states. The
Center writes, "In the South Carolina Senate race, where the candidates
have spent a record-smashing $164 million (since calculated upwards to
$275 million), Democrat Jaime Harrison brought in 93 per cent of his
money from out of state, while Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) raised 87 per
cent from other states. The North Carolina Senate race was the most
expensive congressional race of all time, with $265 million (now
calculated at $300 million) spent between candidates and outside
groups. The Iowa Senate race claimed the No. 2 spot with $218 million
in total spending (now exceeded by South Carolina). When all is said
and done, at least the top four most expensive Senate races of all time
will have taken place in the 2020 election cycle."
Center says much of the funding for PACs comes from "dark money," which
it describes as "spending meant to influence political outcomes where
the source of the money is not disclosed." For example, it says,
"Future Forward, a relatively new hybrid PAC that has spent $106
million to back Biden, got $33 million from dark money groups."
According to the Center, the Senate Leadership Fund raising
money for Mitch McConnell, the leader of the Senate
Republicans, "received nearly $63 million from its allied dark
money group One Nation. This phenomenon means spending by groups that
only partially disclose their sources of funding is at record highs.
Meanwhile, only 30 per cent of outside spending comes from groups that
fully disclose their donors, an all-time low. These big money groups
are typically funded by ultra-wealthy individuals. The top 10 donors
combined to give $642 million in 2020."
writes, "Las Vegas casino owner Sheldon Adelson and his wife Miriam, a
physician, have given $183 million to GOP (Republican) candidates and
groups, the largest sum any couple has given in a single election
cycle. The billionaire couple made most of their donations in the final
months of the election, including $75 million to pro-Trump super PAC
"In a repeat of the 2018 cycle,
former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg is the second most
generous donor. He's given $107 million to Democratic committees in
addition to his billion-dollar self-funding effort in the presidential
race. Bloomberg sent $30 million to his flagship super PAC,
Independence USA. In the final week of the election, Bloomberg
announced he'd spend another $15 million to boost Biden in Texas and
The Center continues, "Other deep-pocketed
donors have worked their way into the top 10 for the first time.
Wyoming investor Timothy Mellon gave $65 million to GOP committees in
2020 after giving $10 million in the 2018 cycle. Republican donor
Jeffrey Yass gave $25 million, up from less than $8 million last cycle."
The Center also breaks down the donations by economic sectors
writing, "Several industries have flipped over to the Democrats' side
under Trump's presidency, including the well-funded miscellaneous
finance and securities and investment industries. Real estate is one of
the few major industries to stay in the Republicans' corner during the
Trump era, giving slightly more to GOP committees than Democrats.
"Given their overall fundraising advantage, it's not
surprising that Democrats have gotten more from powerful industries.
While Biden's campaign is partly powered by small donors, it's also
boosted by Wall Street donors. The securities and investment industry
has given $74 million to Biden's campaign and allied super PACs,
compared to $18 million for Trump's re-election effort.
interests have given nearly $4.6 billion, up from $3.4 billion
throughout the entire 2016 election cycle. Labour, meanwhile, has seen
its giving power decline. Through mid-October, labour groups donated
$175 million, accounting for a tiny fraction of campaign money."
Georgia Run-Off Senate Elections
the window of time since the November election to the January 5 run-off
for the two Georgia Senate seats, spending on advertising alone by the
Republican incumbents and Democratic challengers totalled $486 million
with the bulk ($458 million) going to TV ads. The Democrats outspent
the Republicans marginally $249 million to $237 million.
to Ad Impact, most of the half billion dollars came from the two
national parties and "outside groups such as super PACs to run ads."
From the Center for Responsive Politics Website: “Super PACs
are a relatively new type of committee that arose following the July
2010 federal court decision in a case known as SpeechNow.org v. Federal
known as independent expenditure-only committees, super PACs may raise
unlimited sums of money from corporations, unions, associations and
individuals, then spend unlimited sums to overtly advocate for or
against political candidates. Unlike traditional PACs, super PACs are
prohibited from donating money directly to political candidates, and
their spending must not be coordinated with that of the candidates they
benefit. Super PACs are required to report their donors to the Federal
Election Commission on a monthly or semiannual basis -- the super PAC's
choice -- in off-years, and monthly in the year of an
This article was published in
51 Number 2 - January 10, 2021
Indictment of U.S. Democracy