As Republicans take control of the Senate for the first time in eight years and register pivotal wins throughout the country, it has since been revealed that the party may have used anonymous Twitter accounts to coordinate with Super PACs. Super PACs are individual action committees that-according to the incredibly complicated campaign laws mostly founded in Supreme Court case decisions- can donate unlimited amounts of money to political parties and candidates without doing so directly.
A Super PAC also must disclose its donors for complete transparency. Of course, the idea behind transparency and no-coordination rules is so the beautiful political system that runs our country can be uncorrupted and not run by the money-hungry and agenda-driven. We’ll leave the irony and sarcasm mostly to Stephen Colbert, but all this talk about money and politics got the Squander staff wondering about the biggest political spenders out there.
We’re a little concerned that a quick search for Thomas Steyer comes up with a link to a Powerline article titled “The Epic Hypocrisy of Tom Steyer,” or that the article refers to his green energy initiatives with accusatory quotation marks around the word green, but we digress. Steyer is a billionaire former hedge fund operator who supports the Democratic Party because he believes in the elimination of the use of fossil fuels for energy. For the 2014 election, he spent $73,725,000, of which all went to the Democratic Party, making him not only the highest donor to liberals, but the highest donor in the entire election. But perhaps the craziest tidbit of information on this guy (and just like any guy who drops $100 mil on politics, there’s a lot of tidbits), is that he’s only No. 1,031 on Forbes magazine’s billionaire’s list. We can’t imagine a guy with $100,000,000 of disposable income having 1,030 people with more income to dispose ahead of him.
The 108th Mayor of New York City comes in at number two with money spent on this year’s 2014 election. This isn’t the first time Bloomberg has made headlines for his spending. As the 8th richest man in America, he has been known to seriously spend his cash. The former mayor spent $62,400 on cleaning two massive aquariums he had installed in City Hall over a 12-year span. On a more practical note, he donated $263 million amongst New York groups and $268 million on his three campaigns for mayor, all while rejecting a salary of $2.7 million and only allowing that of a dollar. A measly dollar. “Mr. Bloomberg paid to be the city’s mayor,” and his personal wealth allowed for him to be “largely liberated from the demands of campaign donors, interest groups, [and] political parties,” according to Michael Barbaro’s New York Times article on the former mayor. In other words, access to a wealth of billions means that Bloomberg doesn’t get influenced, he influences. Evident, in summation, by his pricey payout for the 2014 elections.
The third biggest spender in the 2014 election is another hedge fund guy. The guy behind the Elliot Management fund is pretty interesting to read about because he apparently is an arch-nemesis of both Argentina and Peru. Earning a nickname as “The Vulture,” his company has been responsible for buying sovereign bonds cheap and then harping on countries with unpaid debts. Singer is currently in the process of collecting $3 billion from Argentina. Argentina defaulted on its debt in 2001 and has nearly recovered, but now Singer is demanding payment in full to the dismay of the Argentinean economy. Yes, readers, our 3rd biggest campaign donator and the 381th billionaire in the U.S. generates income from the failing economies of developing countries. Squandering at its finest.
Robert Mercer, better known as “Bob” according to the most useless facts ever list, co-heads Renaissance Technologies. Renaissance Technologies is another secretive hedge fund that does some shady stuff involving math algorithms to identify trades and makes a ton of money doing it.
This is Mercer’s first debut on the list of big campaign spenders and there’s relatively little material out there on him in stark contrast to the preceding Paul Singer. However, what little is known about him does not paint him in the most generous light. In July 2013, Mercer was sued by household staff who claimed infractions reaching up to $20 per were deducted from their semi-annual bonuses for reasons such as “failing to replace shampoos and other toiletries” when being 1/3 full and “failing to level pictures.”
And in 2009, Mercer made headlines for one of the first times after he filed a federal lawsuit against RailDreams Custom Model Railroad Design for overcharging him $2,000,000 for a custom model railroad constructed in his Long Island home. Mercer claimed in documents the correct amount for labor was only $704,669. Hilarity ensued, at least we think, when Mercer’s lawyer had to confirm the figures were not typos. There’s no information about the results of either suit, and unfortunately there are no pictures of this probably awesome $700,000/ $2,700,000 railroad model. But what made us smile is that on TrainBoard.com, Mercer’s story serves as a warning to others in the business in the titled forum: “When layout building goes wrong.”