This presidential election season is shaping up to be the year of super PACs and megadonors, with hedge fund executives at the top of the list.
Candidates in the 2016 presidential race have raised an impressive $1.1 billion as of mid-September, according to Federal Election Commission data tracked by the Center for Responsive Politics, Washington.
Democrat Hillary Clinton's candidate committee had raised $373 million by Sept. 12, compared with $166 million by Republican Donald J. Trump's committee. Adding in money from their national parties and political action committees brings totals so far to $698 million for Ms. Clinton and $432 million for Mr. Trump.
When it comes to where the securities and investment industry is putting its money, the picture is even more lopsided: $58.6 million is going to Ms. Clinton vs. $557,480 to Mr. Trump, raised from industry employees as well as executives and by political action committees. “We are seeing that far more (in the securities and investment sector) are giving to Hillary Clinton than Donald Trump,“ said Viveca Novak, spokeswoman for the Center for Responsive Politics. “This is not a conventional election, because you have one candidate that is outside the mainstream party.”
That is a big change since Bain Capital LLC partner Mitt Romney sought the presidency in 2012. By October of that year, $16.4 million in individual donations from the securities and investment sector sector had gone to Mr. Romney, the Republican candidate, while $5 million went to Democratic candidate Barack Obama, according to a roster of employee donors from firms that included The Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Bain Capital, Renaissance Technologies LLC, Clarium Capital Management LLC and Blackstone Group LP, compiled by the CRP.
Securities and investment industry political action committees, which so far in this election cycle have given $11.6 million to federal candidates, heavily favored Republicans over Democrats 62% to 38%. But individual money managers and their employees often hedge their bets.
In the 2016 race, hedge funds and private equity firms donated a combined $94 million to all federal campaigns and outside groups, favoring Republicans 56.2% to 43.8%. Yet when it comes to the final contenders, they gave $41 million to Ms. Clinton and $205,360 to Mr. Trump, according to FEC records.
Since the 2012 election season, the securities and investment sector has become the largest single source of political contributions in federal elections. That sector, once associated with traditional Wall Street investment firms, is now dominated by hedge funds and private equity managers in general and their top executives in particular, according to the CRP.