Conservative Transparency: A Look At The Organized Right In 2014

In the last election, conservative outside groups spent more than $800 million attempting to defeat President Obama and secure Republican majorities in both houses of Congress. The unprecedented flood of cash failed to produce results on Election Day, but right-leaning donors and conservative groups have not given up on their efforts to obstruct progressive governance and implement a right-wing agenda.

Heading into the 2014 midterms, the network of well-funded organizations that comprise the “conservative movement” is larger than ever. Led by Charles and David Koch, the conservative donor class has increased its investment in the think tanks and advocacy groups charged with formulating conservative policy ideas and electing a government that will implement them. However, while the Koch brothers are well known to most political observers, it can be difficult to keep track of all the relevant players.

Bridge Project is committed to keeping a watchful eye on the conservative movement – and Conservative Transparency, an interactive database that tracks the flow of money on the right, is central to that mission. In addition to documenting the reported political contributions of major individual donors, Conservative Transparency uses the publicly available tax filings of conservative foundations and charities to provide hard-to-find information about the money behind think tanks and politically active nonprofits that do not have to disclose the sources of their funding.

Read more after the jump.

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.

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American Future Fund: “Justice For Sale”

The American Future Fund (AFF) is deviating from the conservative line that President Obama wants to punish the rich with an ad accusing Obama of “protecting his Wall Street donors.” However, despite the ad’s suggestion that Obama is a tool of the big banks, Wall Street donors have flocked to the Republican Party in the wake of Democratic reform efforts. In this election cycle, no politician has benefitted from Wall Street’s largesse more than Mitt Romney, who has collected more than twice as much as the president from the financial sector.

Read more after the jump.