WASHINGTON — Despite voicing objections to corporate control of American democracy, Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign depends on some of America’s richest and most powerful, from investment bankers to Hollywood elites.
Clinton began her presidential campaign by offering support for a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United, the Supreme Court decision which allows unlimited corporate spending on political campaigns. And she said on Oct. 7 that she opposes the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a controversial trade deal that gives broad power to multinational corporations, including the ability to overrule local laws that interfere with their profits.
However, details of the Democratic presidential front runner’s campaign fundraising show that Hollywood elite, investment bankers and powerful business interests represent her biggest donors.
So far, Clinton’s campaign has raised $97,763,283, according to figures released on Oct. 16 by OpenSecrets, a project of the Center for Responsive Politics. Her campaign committee raised $77,471,604, while super PACs and other outside groups raised $20,291,679.
Top donors to her campaign include powerful law firms like Morgan & Morgan, which donated $277,326, and Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld which gave $133,756. In July, journalist Lee Fang revealed in The Intercept that Akin Gump has been hired to lobby for candidates from both major parties, including Clinton and Republican presidential hopeful Jeb Bush. In addition to their direct donations, Fang wrote that lobbyists like Akin Gump help drive presidential campaigns through soliciting major donations to super PACs.
Another top donor, the materials corporation Corning, Inc., which gave $209,100 to Clinton’s campaign, was criticized in 2011 by the nonpartisan group Public Campaign for spending millions on lobbying while paying no taxes between 2008 and 2010. Citizens For Tax Justice reported that Corning received $4 million in tax rebates during the same period. In 2012, Susan Ford, a top executive at Corning, testified before Congress to argue for a lower corporate tax rate, according to ThinkProgress.
Overall, retirees have given the most to Clinton’s campaign, followed closely by lawyers, business lobbyists and investment bankers.
Priorities USA Action, Clinton’s largest super PAC, is funded largely by powerful media moguls, wealthy investors, and some of Hollywood’s largest corporations.
Saban Capital Group, a Los Angeles investment firm formed by Haim Saban, contributed $2 million to the PAC. Saban owns the massive media holding company Saban Brands as well as part of Univision Communications, the popular Spanish-language news network. Saban, a vocal supporter of apartheid Israel, has also invested millions in efforts to oppose to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, leading Clinton to court his support with her own anti-BDS letter in August.
Major finance industry backers include Paloma Partners, the creation of hedge fund manager Donald Sussman, which contributed $1 million to the PAC. Another $1 million came from Soros Fund Management, the highly profitable hedge fund firm created by wealthy political influencer George Soros. Soros has financial ties to the coup in Ukraine, which Clinton also backed as Secretary of State.
Even more funds have come from Hollywood, especially over the summer when powerful executives from the TV and film industry contributed to a rush of donations that added up to about $12.5 million in just four weeks, as reported by CBS News:
“The list of donors to the Clinton super PAC includes a number of notable Hollywood names, including DreamWorks CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg and producer/directors Steven Spielberg and JJ Abrams.”
DreamWorks, creators of popular films like “Kung Fu Panda” and “Shrek,” gave $2 million to her super PAC, and other top media donors include DISH Network and Time Warner, which gave generously to her campaign. In February, the Electronic Frontier Foundation noted that Hollywood supports the TPP because it increases corporate control in multiple ways:
“It will force other TPP signatories to accept the United States’ excessive copyright terms of a minimum of life of the author plus 70 years, while locking the US to the same lengths so it will be harder to shorten them in the future. … And in the most recent leak of the TPP’s Intellectual Property chapter, we found an even more alarming provision on trade secrets that could be used to crackdown on journalists and whistleblowers who report on corporate wrongdoing.”
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