According to research from Politico's Ken Vogel, the 100 biggest donors gave almost as much money as 4.75 million small donors to political campaigns in 2014.
Vogel says the numbers would tilt even more in favor of the rich donors if he could include groups that spent hundreds of billions but aren't required by law to reveal the sources of their funding.
The rise of the big donors comes, according to Vogel, as fewer and fewer ordinary Americans contribute to political campaigns, increasing the influence of the rich on U.S. politics.
Conservative donor and Arkansas poultry farmer Ronnie Cameron, who ranked 13th on Politico's list, told Vogel that the rise of big money hasn't fundamentally changed American politics, and argued that the numbers do not include contributions from sources like labor unions, which tend to give to Democrats.
Politico's analysis also shows that big money is a bipartisan phenomenon now — 52 of the top 100 donors gave exclusively or primarily to Democratic candidates.
Vogel discussed his investigation with Here & Now's Robin Young.
- Kenneth Vogel, chief investigative reporter for Politico. His book is “Big Money: 2.5 Billion Dollars, One Suspicious Vehicle, and a Pimp — On the Trail of the Ultra-Rich Hijacking American Politics.” He tweets @kenvogel.
This segment aired on January 7, 2015.