Wealthy Americans have spent big this midterm season to impact the downside races for their prime candidates.
The 2022 midterm election cycle has seen a spending boom as Election Day approaches. OpenSecrets Research Group estimates that federal election spending increased by nearly $2 billion from 2018.
Even more impressive, 10 wealthy individuals invested a combined $540 million in this year’s election, according to campaign finance data from OpenSecrets.
These mega-donors give most of their money to outside groups such as super PACs that can raise and spend unlimited amounts on election ads.
About 62% of their donations boosted Republicans, who received far more support than Democrats from big-money groups through November, a reversal from recent elections where wealthy donors favored Democrats.
Here are the top 10 midterm donors, according to the latest Federal Election Commission documents compiled by OpenSecrets:
Total donations: $128.5 million
Soros, a Hungarian-born Holocaust survivor who made his fortune as a hedge fund manager, donated $128.5 million to his own outside group, Democracy PAC, which then distributed millions of dollars to several super PACs supporting Democratic candidates.
His group donated $10.5 million to the Senate Majority PAC, a super PAC controlled by Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (DN.Y.). He also donated $1 million to the J Street Action Fund, a pro-Israel group that supports Democrats, and Planned Parenthood’s super PAC. If the group makes other donations, they will not be revealed until after the elections.
Soros has long been the target of right-wing attacks and conspiracy theories for his prolific donations to Democrats. His donations to support democracy in Hungary drew attacks from the country’s authoritarian prime minister, Viktor Orbán, which included anti-Semitic tropes.
Total donations: $80.7 million
Uihlein is the co-founder of shipping giant Uline, one of the country’s largest private companies. The Illinois-based billionaire has become a major force for Republicans in recent elections, and the 2022 election cycle marks his highest donation total.
He is the top donor to the Club for Growth, one of the strongest conservative super PACs, donating $23.2 million. Uihlein also donated $3.5 million to a group supporting Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), continuing his longtime efforts to influence major Wisconsin races.
Total donations: $68.6 million
Griffin, the CEO of Miami-based hedge fund Citadel, is one of the richest 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 supports dozens of House GOP challengers. He gave an additional $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 in GameStop shares. Griffin denied his company had any involvement in the decision during a congressional hearing on the matter, and the lawsuits against Citadel were dismissed.
Total donations: $47.3M
Yass is the founding billionaire of quantitative trading firm Susquehanna International Group. He is a longtime GOP donor who supports candidates for minimum taxes and government regulation and serves as vice chairman of the board of directors of the libertarian Cato Institute.
Yass has donated $15 million to the School Freedom Fund, which represents the vast majority of the Club for Growth-aligned group’s fundraising. The super PAC ran ads attacking Democratic candidates over COVID-19 school closures and “critical race theory” and waded into the GOP primaries.
He donated $5 million to a super PAC supporting the re-election of Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and donated $1.9 million in bitcoins to Crypto Freedom PAC, a pro-crypto group that supports the GOP Senate hopeful, Blake Masters, in Arizona.
Total donations: $40M
Mellon, a longtime GOP mega-donor, is the grandson of banking magnate Andrew Mellon and was chairman of a transportation company that was bought by rail freight giant CSX this year.
The Wyoming-based billionaire has donated $10 million to the Congressional Leadership Fund. He gave an additional $5 million to the Sentinel Action Fund, a super PAC aligned with the Heritage Foundation’s action fund that spent most of its money on ads attacking Sen. Mark Kelly (D-Arizona).
A major supporter of former President Trump and his efforts to toughen immigration laws, Mellon gained attention for donating $53 million to the Texas border wall fund last year.
Sam Bankman Fried
Total donations: $39.8 million
Bankman-Fried, the founder and CEO of crypto exchange FTX, is a new addition to the list of top donors.
The billionaire crypto executive sent most of his donations — $28 million — to his Protect Our Future PAC, a super PAC focused on preventing the next pandemic that mostly backed Democrats against progressives in the primaries.
That’s a fraction of the $1 billion total that Bankman-Fried previously said he would spend supporting Democratic midterm candidates and the 2024 election. He called his earlier statement a “dumb quote” in a interview with Politics earlier this month, arguing that more donations can only go so far in the general election.
“At some point when you’ve gotten your message out to voters, there’s just not much more you can do,” Bankman-Fried said.
Total donations: $35.8M
Eychaner, a longtime Democratic mega-donor and supporter of LGBT causes, runs Newsweb Corporation, which owns several radio stations and newspapers in the Chicago area.
He is the top contributor to the Democratic majority PAC. He donated $9 million to House Majority PAC and donated another $8 million to Senator Majority PAC. Eychaner consistently gives the maximum allowable donation to the Democratic National Committee and other Democrat campaign committees.
Total donations: $35.5M
Schwarzman leads the Blackstone Group, one of the world’s largest private equity firms.
The New York billionaire has donated $10 million to the Senate Leadership Fund and the Congressional Leadership Fund, giving a huge boost to Republicans’ bid to regain control of Congress. He has been a top 10 donor in each of the last three elections.
Total donations: $32.6 million
Thiel, who co-founded PayPal and currently runs data analytics firm Palantir Technologies, has become a major GOP accelerator.
Thiel joins the list of top donors for the first time, primarily placing his bets on two GOP Senate candidates. He gave $15 million to a super PAC supporting Blake Masters in Arizona, a former executive at Thiel’s company, and another $15 million to a super PAC supporting JD Vance in Ohio.
Total donations: $31M
With an estimated net worth of nearly $100 billion, according to Forbes, Ellison is by far the wealthiest person on this list.
President of Oracle Corp. donated $20 million to the Opportunity Matters Fund, a super PAC aligned with Sen. Tim Scott (RS.C.) that backs GOP candidates in tight Senate races.
— Updated at 2:00 p.m.