Rich Americans spent big this midterm season to impact down-ballot races for their candidates of choice.
The 2022 midterm election cycle has seen a boom in spending in the lead-up to Election Day. Research group OpenSecrets estimates that federal election spending increased by nearly $2 billion compared to 2018.
Even more eye-popping, 10 wealthy individuals poured $540 million combined into this year’s elections, according to campaign finance data from OpenSecrets.
These mega-donors are giving most of their money to outside groups such as super PACs that can raise and spend unlimited sums on election ads.
Roughly 62 percent of their donations boosted Republicans, who have received far more support than Democrats from big money groups leading up to November, a reversal from recent elections where wealthy donors favored Democrats.
Here are the 10 largest donors in the midterms, according to the most recent Federal Election Commission filings compiled by OpenSecrets:
Total donations: $128.5M
Soros, a Hungarian-born Holocaust survivor who made his fortune as a hedge fund manager, has donated $128.5 million to his own outside group, Democracy PAC, which then doled out millions of dollars to several super PACs supporting Democratic candidates.
His group donated $10.5 million to Senate Majority PAC, a super PAC controlled by Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.). It also gave $1 million to J Street Action Fund, a pro-Israel group that backs Democrats, and Planned Parenthood’s super PAC. If the group makes other donations, they won’t be revealed until after the election.
Soros has long been a target of right-wing attacks and conspiracy theories over his prolific donations to Democrats. His donations to support democracy in Hungary drew attacks from the country’s authoritarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán that included antisemitic tropes.
Total donations: $80.7M
Uihlein is the co-founder of shipping giant Uline, one of the nation’s largest privately owned companies. The Illinois-based billionaire has emerged as a major force for Republicans in recent elections, and the 2022 election cycle marks his highest donation total.
He’s the top donor to Club for Growth, one of the most powerful conservative super PACs, giving $23.2 million. Uihlein also gave $3.5 million to a group backing Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), continuing his longstanding efforts to influence key Wisconsin races.
Total donations: $68.6M
Griffin, the CEO of Miami-based hedge fund Citadel, is one of the wealthiest mega-donors, with an estimated net worth of $31 billion, according to Forbes.
He gave $18.5 million to the Congressional Leadership Fund, a super PAC controlled by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), making him the top individual donor to the group that is backing dozens of House GOP challengers. He gave another $10 million to the Senate Leadership Fund, which is affiliated with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).
Last year, “meme stock” traders accused Citadel of colluding with trading platform Robinhood to halt trading of GameStop stock. Griffin denied that his firm was involved in the decision during a congressional hearing on the issue and lawsuits against Citadel were dismissed.