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Super PACs seeking to influence the 2016 elections have collected more than $1 billion, a record haul driven by jumbo-sized contributions from rich donors on both sides of the aisle.
Just 10 mega-donor individuals and couples contributed nearly 20 percent of the $1.1 billion raised by super PACs by the end of August, according to a Washington Post analysis of federal campaign finance reports. The total exceeds the $853 million that super PACs collected in the entire 2012 cycle.
In a reflection of how once-reluctant Democrats have fully embraced the big-money system, the top givers were split roughly equally along party lines, with five Republicans, four Democrats and one independent, former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg.
On the left, large check writers have pumped millions into Priorities USA Action, the top super PAC allied with Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, who has struggled to demonstrate her independence from her wealthy supporters.
On the Republican side, the big money has largely flowed into super PACs working to keep GOP control of the Senate rather than to the muddled collection of competing groups supporting presidential nominee Donald Trump.
Together, super PACs seeking to sway the White House and congressional races have pumped more than $674 million into TV ads and other outreach through September, filings show. By the end of the 2012 elections, such groups had spent $608 million.
The figures illustrate how American campaigns have been reordered by the ability to give unlimited sums to political committees. In the six years since the Supreme Court’s Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision created new paths for massive contributions to flow into elections, a tiny sliver of donors with immense financial capacity have rushed to participate.