13 Jul NEW REPORT SHOWS GROWING TREND: BILLIONAIRES BUYING FEDERAL ELECTIONS, PUTTING DEMOCRACY AT RISK
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:: July 13, 2022
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NEW REPORT SHOWS GROWING TREND: BILLIONAIRES BUYING FEDERAL ELECTIONS, PUTTING DEMOCRACY AT RISK
NEVADA – Institute for a Progressive Nevada has released a new report today in coordination with Americans for Tax Fairness showing that America’s billionaires are pumping tens of millions of dollars into the 2022 midterm elections, mostly backing Republican candidates for Congress who propose to cut taxes for the ultra-rich and the corporations they own. The report finds that many of the candidates and lawmakers receiving billionaire campaign contributions are undermining America’s democracy by supporting the January 6th insurrection to overturn the results of the 2020 election. Examples include Elaine Wynn, who has contributed $30,000 to the House Majority PAC. The increased flow of billionaire dollars into American politics this year continues a trend that began when the Supreme Court struck down effective campaign-contribution limits 12 years ago in the Citizens United decision.
The United States has a growing number of billionaires. Many of whom increased their wealth during the last two years of the pandemic, even as average Nevadans struggled with health, financial security and growing inflation. The 16 billionaires in Nevada, for instance, increased their wealth by 60% from March, 2022 to April, 2022. Elaine Wynn has used some of that increased wealth to support candidates and lawmakers who will pass policies that further enrich the ultra-wealthy, such as tax loopholes that enable many billionaires to pay lower tax rates than teachers, firefighters and nurses.
The report, BILLIONAIRES BUYING ELECTIONS: How the Nation’s Wealthiest Translate Economic Power Into Political Clout, shows that:
- Almost half—$89 million, or 47%—of the nearly $190 million raised by the House and Senate GOP super PACs in the first 16 months of the 2022 campaign cycle came from just 27 billionaires. Almost all of that money came from Wall Street tycoons, who particularly benefit from some of the biggest loopholes in the tax code.
- Elaine Wynn, who made most of her wealth from Wynn Resorts, contributed $30,000 to House Majority PAC.
- The Democratic counterparts of the two congressional GOP super PACs have received much less billionaire money: about 17%, or about $26 million out of $154 million. These billionaire contributions were much less concentrated by industry: while the most still came from finance and investment (35%), cryptocurrency (26%) and high-tech (18%) were also substantial sources.
- Among the biggest billionaire donors are Illinois hedge-fund pioneer Ken Griffin, who alone contributed over $28 million to the two GOP congressional super PACs; money manager Stephen Schwarzman, who gave the groups $20 million; and PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel, who handed nearly $30 million to super PACs backing his U.S. Senate candidates in Ohio (J.D. Vance) and Arizona (Blake Masters) who both used to work for him and deny that President Biden won the 2020 election.
In addition to direct contributions to candidates who will keep laws rigged in their favor, the wealthy also leverage influence through the corporations they control. Many of those corporations also spend big on midterm elections, backing mainly GOP candidates who pledge to keep corporate tax rates low and support lawmakers and candidates that deny the 2020 election outcome. The report highlights seven large corporations—AT&T, Chevron, ExxonMobil, FedEx, GM, Merck, and UPS—that together gave almost $1.5 million to election deniers this election cycle. In 2021, they paid an average 2.7% tax rate on a combined $78 billion in profits. Average American families pay about 13%.
Many of the Republicans they supported who are now in Congress are expected to oppose the current reconciliation bill that would raise taxes on millionaires and corporations while lowering prescription drug prices for seniors and making health care coverage more affordable for people with private insurance plans.
“What’s good for billionaires—like lower tax rates for the ultra-rich and corporations—is bad for the rest of us. A handful of billionaires already control more wealth than over half the American population and they plan to hold onto that wealth by buying the candidates and election outcomes they want in order to keep the rules rigged in their favor. Congress should take action now by cleaning up campaign finance rules and tax reforms that hold the super wealthy accountable to the same rules as the rest of us,” said Maria-Teresa Liebermann-Parraga, Deputy Director of Institute for a Progressive Nevada.
Legislation to tax the ultra-wealthy has been proposed by President Biden, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-NY). Billionaires’ income tax proposals would tax the increased value of rich people’s wealth similar to workers’ wages. Right now, the wealthy pay no more in taxes when their wealth increases due to stock assets, unless they choose to sell those assets. A billionaires income tax could raise between $360 billion and $550 billion over 10 years.
Notes: Spokespeople in Spanish or English are available for individual interviews.