Although many of these mega-donors have long participated in politics, none were able to wield the kind of influence now possible under loosened campaign finance regulations, which allow super PACs and other outside groups to spend unlimited amounts on political races.
In January, just five donors gave a total of $19 million, a quarter of the money raised for the presidential race that month, according to a Washington Post analysis of new contribution data filed this week. Overall, 23 people have directed about $54 million to super PACs this cycle, helping to bankroll a tide of negative ads in primary-contest states.
The dominance of a handful of well-to-do donors has suddenly reshaped campaign finance, but it could also pose a political risk to candidates in both parties at a time of economic distress, particularly as President Obama and his Republican rivals debate issues relating to tax fairness and income inequality ahead of the November election.
“I’m against very wealthy people attempting to or influencing elections,” casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, who is funding a pro-
Gingrich super PAC, said in an interview published this week in Forbes magazine. “But as long as it’s doable, I’m going to do it.”...