Private equity, hedge funds topping US Presidential donor lists

Hedge fund executives and private equity groups are at the top of the list when it comes to donated funds to the US presidential election season.

As of last month, the candidates in this year's presidential race have raised $1.1 billion in total, figures from the Federal Election Commission that was analysed by the Center for Responsive Politics, Washington, have revealed.

While $373 million had been raised by Democrat Hillary Clinton's candidate committee by the middle of last month, $166 million had been raised by the committee working on behalf of Republican Donald J. Trump. Couple these funds with the amounts contributed from both their national parties and political action committees and the totals are a staggering $698 million for Hillary Clinton and $432 million for Donald Trump.

Industry employees from across the securities and investment sector, as well as political action committees, have chipped in $58.6 million to Ms. Clinton, while just $557,480 has been received by Mr. Trump.

Viveca Novak, spokeswoman for the Center for Responsive Politics, told PI Online: "We are seeing that far more (in the securities and investment sector) are giving to Hillary Clinton than Donald Trump. This is not a conventional election, because you have one candidate that is outside the mainstream party.”

In the 2012 presidential race, individual donations from the securities and investment sector totalled $16.4 million for Bain Capital LLC partner Mitt Romney, compared to just $5 million for Barack Obama. These donors included Bain Capital, The Goldman Sachs Group (GS) Inc, Blackstone Group LP and Renaissance Technologies LLC.

Since the 2012 election, the sector has become the biggest single contributor to political contributions in federal elections and, since it is now dominated heavily by both private equity organisations and hedge funds, these are in turn the top donors.

The former co-managing partner of Farallon Capital Management LLC. Thomas Steyer and his wife, Kathryn Taylor, are the biggest individual donors, contributing $39 million donated to the Democrats. In second place is the co-CEO of Renaissance Technologies, Robert Mercer and his wife, Diana, who contributed $21.7 million to conservative causes.

Other top donors include the founder and CIO of Paloma Partners LLC, Donald Sussman, who has contributed $21.7 million to the Democratic candidates over the years and George Soros from Soros Fund Management LLC, who contributed $17.4 million to the Democrats.

Hillary Clinton made history last year by becoming the first presidential candidate to create a joint fundraising committee alongside the Democratic National Committee and 32 state committees. This creation enabled her to accept up to $356,100 on an annual basis from individual donors and any contributors were allowed to chip in up to $5,400 to the Clinton campaign, along with $33,400 to the Democratic National Committee and $10,000 to each one of the state parties. As the contribution levels are allowed to be reset on the first day of each year, donors are effectively allowed to double the amount they contribute during the 2016 election season.

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