“Guardian angel” donors have poured $284.6 million into 36 super PACs during the 2022 midterm cycle, according to a new analysis by OpenSecrets.
These angel donors contributed more than 40% of the total raised by a super PAC. In some cases, super PACs are virtually entirely financed by the angel donor.
The vast majority of super PACs do not raise most of their money from a single source. The 2,163 super PACs tracked by OpenSecrets have raised over $1.1 billion and spent $232 million so far during the 2022 midterm elections.
Angel donors poured $155 million into liberal super PACs and $118.8 million into conservative super PACs. An additional $5.8 million went to non-partisan super PACs.
OpenSecrets’ analysis breaks down the biggest names and numbers so far this election cycle, but readers can browse the full dataset here.
Liberal Super PACs Get a Boost From Their Billionaire Founders
Democratic mega-donor George Soros is currently the top individual super PAC donor for the 2022 midterm election. He has contributed $126 million of the $155 million angel donors have given to liberal super PACs so far this election cycle. Forbes estimates the founder of the hedge fund Soros Fund Management and the philanthropic Open Society Foundations is worth $8.6 billion.
The billionaire poured $125 million into launching his super PAC, Democracy PAC II, which contributes millions to other liberal super PACs like the Senate Majority PAC or the House Majority PAC rather than make ad buys itself.
While Soros’ contribution dwarfs others made so far this cycle, a Soros spokesman told OpenSecrets that Democracy PAC II is not likely to spend all $125 million this cycle. While he could not provide an exact number, the spokesman said, “I would doubt it’s going to come out to the level of the last cycle.”
During the 2020 election cycle, Soros and the original Democracy PAC raised and contributed $81.4 million to other super PACs. Senate Majority PAC received $11.5 million from Democracy PAC during the last general election, and Democracy PAC II has contributed $5 million to Senate Majority PAC so far this cycle.
The former mayor of New York, whose net worth Forbes estimates to be $82 billion, spent big during the 2020 election in which he failed to secure the Democratic presidential nomination. Bloomberg gave his own presidential campaign over $1 billion before he dropped out of the race in March 2020, and he contributed over $67.3 million to Independence USA PAC during the 2020 election cycle.
Bloomberg, who ran for the Democratic presidential nomination during the 2020 election cycle, contributed $98 million to super PACs that cycle, which made him the second-largest individual donor. He is currently the 29th top individual donor, having contributed almost $1.6 million so far this cycle.
Mega-Donors Donate to Super PACs Supporting Alleged Abusers
Uihlein is consistently a top individual donor, according to OpenSecrets data, with an estimated wealth of $4 billion. He contributed $65 million to super PACs during the 2020 election cycle, which made him the third largest donor.
Both Uihlein and Bernard Marcus, co-founder of Home Depot whose net worth is $5.6 billion, were angel donors for super PACs backing Missouri Senate candidate and former Gov. Eric Greitens (R). Uihlein donated all $2.5 million raised by Team PAC, and Marcus donated $1 million to the Missouri First Action. Both are single-candidate super PACs supporting Greitens.
Greitens resigned as governor in 2018 following allegations of sexual misconduct. Greitens’ ex-wife, Sheena Greitens, also accused her ex-husband of emotional and physical abuse toward her and their children in an affidavit filed in March.
Both Uihlein and Marcus made these contributions before Sheena Greitens filed the statement.
Marcus is the angel donor for not just one, but two super PACs supporting candidates with credible allegations of domestic violence against them. He also gave almost $1.8 million to 34N22 Inc, a single-candidate super PAC that spent $200,000 supporting former National Football League star Herschel Walker.
Uihlein also contributed $1 million to 34N22 Inc in March 2022.
Walker told Axios in December that he was “accountable” for violent acts he committed against his ex-wife. He won the Georgia Senate GOP primary last Tuesday, and he will face off with Sen. Raphael Warnock (D–Ga.) in the November general election.
Neither Uihlein nor Marcus responded to OpenSecrets’ requests for comment.
Conservative Mega-Donors Pour Money Into Super PACs
The super PAC is aligned with Sen. Tim Scott (R–S.C.) and has raised $21.6 million so far during the 2022 midterms. Opportunity Matters Fund has poured $760,000 into outside spending to support Republican Congressional candidates in Texas, Ohio and Georgia.
Opportunity Matters Fund spent $492,000 on video production, TV placement and direct mail supporting Wesley Hunt in the GOP primary in Texas’ 38th Congressional District — the most it spent on any candidate this election cycle. Hunt won the primary in March, as did Rep. Tony Gonzales (R–Texas), who enjoyed a $99,000 boost from the super PAC, in Texas’ 23rd Congressional District.
Ellison also gave $1 million to the Tennessee Conservatives PAC, a single-candidate super PAC that backed Morgan Ortagus in the state’s 5th Congressional District. The Republican Party of Tennessee removed Ortagus, a former State Department spokeswoman who was endorsed by former President Donald Trump, and two other candidates from the ballot in April, as they had not met the party’s requirement to vote in three of the last four statewide primary elections.
As OpenSecrets previously reported, Paypal co-founder Peter Thiel has poured $23.5 million into the Ohio and Arizona GOP primary races. With an estimated net worth of $7.6 billion, Thiel contributed $15 million to the Protect Ohio Values, the single-candidate super PAC that supported his former employee J.D. Vance in the Ohio Senate GOP primary.
Thiel also donated $13.5 million to Saving Arizona, the super PAC supporting another friend and former employee of Thiel’s, Blake Masters, who’s seeking to unseat Sen. Mark Kelly (D–Ariz.). Thiel kickstarted the super PAC with a $10 million donation in April 2021, and The Washington Post reported Thiel made another $3.5 million contribution after Vance’s GOP primary victory in early May.
Citadel CEO Ken Griffin spent big in a contentious Pennsylvania Senate race that is currently in the process of a recount. As OpenSecrets previously reported, Griffin contributed over $7.5 million to Honor Pennsylvania, a super PAC supporting former hedge fund executive Dave McCormick in the Senate GOP primary held on May 17. Bloomberg estimates Griffin’s net worth is $29.4 billion.
Jeffrey Yass, co-founder and managing director of Susquehanna International Group with an estimated net worth of $12 billion, contributed $15 million to the conservative super PAC School Freedom Fund.
Some of this season’s most contentious primaries have attracted spending by the super PAC. School Freedom Fund spent a total of $250,000 in West Virginia’s 2nd Congressional District boosting Trump-endorsed Rep. Alex Mooney (R–W.Va.) to victory over Rep. David McKinley (R–W.Va.) in a battle between two incumbents.
The super PAC put another $1.5 million into the North Carolina Senate GOP primary. Pat McCrory, who the super PAC spent most of its money to undermine, lost to Ted Budd, who snagged a key endorsement from Trump. The super PAC also spent $665,000 supporting Rep. Mo Brooks (R–Ala.), who advanced to a runoff against Katie Britt in Alabama’s Senate GOP primary.
Yass contributed another $5 million to the Kentucky Freedom PAC, a super PAC supporting Sen. Rand Paul (R–Ky.). Paul won his GOP Senate primary race last Tuesday, and he will face Kentucky state Rep. Charles Booker, a Democrat, in the November general election.
Nonpartisan Super PACs Attract Big-Name Donors
Yass also contributed $1 million to Term Limits Action, which has raised $2.3 million so far this election cycle. The nonpartisan super PAC, which aims to enact term limits for all elected officials, has not spent money to support or oppose any candidates as of May 31.
A nonpartisan super PAC that supports veteran candidates, With Honor Fund, received $4 million from the Bezos family so far this cycle. With Honor Fund has raised $5.5 million, and as OpenSecrets previously reported, Jacklyn and Miguel Bezos, the parents of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, each donated $2 million to the super PAC ahead of the 2022 midterms. 2022 is the third election cycle in which members of the Bezos family made up the majority of contributions to the PAC, following $12.2 million in contributions in 2018 and $2 million in 2020.
With Honor Fund has spent about $190,000 on 2022 federal elections so far. The super PAC spent $113,000 on billboard advertising and direct mail for Emily Beach, a Democratic candidate for the U.S. House in California’s 15th Congressional District, and $71,000 for direct mail supporting Rep. Jimmy Panetta (D–Calif.) in California’s 19th Congressional District. California will hold its primary election on June 7.
Disclaimer: The Center for Responsive Politics and the National Institute on Money in Politics, which merged to create OpenSecrets in 2021, previously received funding from Open Society Foundations.