Nearly half of all the money raised so far to support presidential candidates has come from some 150 super-rich families, and some of them have connections to the Philadelphia area.
Chief among them is Jeff Yass, executive at the Susquehanna International Group in Lower Merion. He’s contributed $2.3 million to super PACs pushing libertarian Republican presidential candidate Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky.
According to Federal Election Commission reports, Yass gave generously to the Purple Pac, Inc., Concerned American Voters and America’s Liberty PAC, all working to get Paul into the oval office.
If the Susquehanna International Group sounds familiar it’s because senior members of the privately held investment firm also injected millions into the failed Philadelphia mayoral campaign of Anthony Hardy Williams around the expansion of charter schools and support of vouchers.
Ross Baker, a professor of politics at Rutgers University, said it doesn’t matter that Rand Paul is facing long odds. He compares big presidential giving with what billionaires used to do when they bought racehorses.
“Obviously, if the horse wins the Triple Crown, that’s great. But you’re seen to be a player, and if you’re seen to be a player, you’re going to get people coming to you on bended knee,” Baker said. “You’re going to get invited to all kinds of interesting events and feel important. You know, there’s a psychological side to this.”
More and more, presidential campaigns are being funded by white, older, male donors who have built fortunes on stock market, gains or through energy investments, the New York Times analysis found.
That level of influence has become even more intense since the 2010 Citizens United ruling allowed for unlimited spending by corporations and wealthy people.