16 Men, Over $150 Million: The DNA Of A Conservative Megadonor

You haven’t heard of him because he doesn’t actually exist. But if you threw the 16 people who have given more than $2 million conservative super PACs this cycle into a genetic recombinator that would average them according to the amount each gave, you’d end up with a plutocrat straight out of central casting. He would be over 75 years old. He would be a white man. If you pooled his progenitors’ wealth rather than average it, he would be worth something like $51 billion. That fortune comes primarily from the casino and finance industries (but also draws on coal company holdings, real estate empires, entertainment promotion, and even a skin cream sales multi-level marketing scheme). If he were a country, he’d be about the 71st largest economy in the world, well ahead of places like Uruguay, Kenya, and Lithuania.

He’s fond of saying that President Obama will “eliminate free enterprise” in favor of a “socialist-style economy.” But despite that avowed free-market ideology, he’s used his wealth to tilt the playing field in his favor on everything from nuclear waste deals to custom-built regulatory shams in Texas, to complex business dealings in Macau. And his attitude toward his own workforce is far less generous than his philanthropic giving might suggest: His companies brag of being “entirely union-free” (though they’re quieter about their thousands of safety violations), one group of employees resorted to a hunger strike for pay equity with their English-speaking colleagues, and his primary revenue stream – the casino empire – is under investigation by the feds and mired in a nasty legal battle with his former business partner.

Here’s a rundown of the 16 real men who’ve combined to give over $150 million – just that we know about, and not counting reported donations to anonymously funded groups – to conservative super PACs during this cycle.

Read more after the jump.

The Week In Conservative Attack Ads

In the penultimate week before Election Day, conservative outside groups once again flooded the airwaves with attacks on Democratic candidates. Ten conservative groups were responsible for the 31 televisions ads we fact-checked – 16 of them targeting House candidates, 10 aimed at Senate candidates, and five attacking President Obama or cheerleading for Mitt Romney. As they did last week, Karl Rove’s American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS led the way, accounting for 12 of the ads we debunked. Since Monday, the two groups have announced four separate ad buys totaling a whopping $22.8 million.

Aside from American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS, several groups contributed to the assault on President Obama and Democratic Senate candidates. Restore Our Future, 60 Plus, and the American Future Fund each weighed in on the presidential race. We also fact-checked two Senate ads from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and one apiece from American Commitment and Hardworking Americans Committee.

Coleman Groups Drill House Candidates With Oil-Funded Ads

But the most prolific groups focused on the House, where, in addition to four spots from Crossroads GPS, we answered five ads from the Congressional Leadership Fund, four from American Action Network, and three from Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform. Former Minnesota senator Norm Coleman is the chairman of both CLF, a super PAC, and AAN, a nonprofit that does not disclose its donors. CLF’s top individual contributors are billionaire Romney boosters Sheldon Adelson and Bob Perry, but it also recently received $2.5 million from Chevron – the “largest contribution from a publicly traded corporation” since the Citizens United decision – which is a good indication of who Big Oil expects to prioritize its interests in the next Congress.

Read more after the jump.

The Week In Conservative Attack Ads

As the nation turned its attention to the Democratic National Convention, conservative groups were again relatively quiet on the airwaves. We fact checked six television ads, including two extremely misleading attacks on Democratic candidates from the Adelson-funded YG Action Fund. In addition, Americans for Prosperity released an ad falsely comparing the Affordable Care Act to Canada’s single-payer health care system, Crossroads GPS continued its assault on North Dakota Senate candidate Heidi Heitkamp, and the Club for Growth shifted its focus from Republican primaries to the general election.

30 Months, 4.6 Million Private-Sector Jobs

American Crossroads countered the convention with an ad blasting President Obama’s economic record and suggesting that he has taken the country “backward.” In fact, the economy now has gained 4.6 million private-sector jobs in the last 30 months, but government employment continues to shrink, restraining the overall recovery. The following chart shows the accumulation of private-sector job gains and public-sector job losses since the recession officially ended in June 2009:


Read more after the jump.