Campaign Donations: The Donors You Know, and the Ones You Don't

US gaming tycoon Sheldon Adelson with his wife Miriam (AFP | Getty Images)

Regardless of the outcome of Tuesday's vote, one thing is certain: This election cycle has created a slew of new celebrities. A year and a half ago, nobody knew anything about Foster Friess or Sheldon Adelson, the Koch brothers or Frank VanDerSloot. Today, these men are household names, the most visible members of a new class of deep-pocketed money men with enough cash to sway primaries, elections and -- possibly -- the presidency.

But while those super PAC supermen are certainly exciting, they are hardly the only folks giving money to political campaigns. From famous celebrities to well-known companies, to ordinary middle class Americans, millions of donors have poured money into this election cycle. What's more, thanks to a few websites, it's easy to find out which candidates your favorite store, your favorite actor, or even your next door neighbor has shelled out cash for.

The easiest -- and most attractive -- site for finding out about campaign donations is Money Monocle, a service provided by SigFig, a personal financial planning website. In addition to a simple, easy-to-use interface, the site also offers a quick rundown of some of the top celebrities and best-known companies that are putting money into this election.

For those who want a little more depth, Open Secrets is the place to go for granular information on exactly where your favorite actors and top companies are putting their money. For example, while Money Monocle notes that George Clooney gave $35,800 to Democrats in this election cycle, Open Secrets explains that George Clooney, of Los Angeles, Calif., zip code 90024, a "self-employed" or "freelance" actor, gave $30,800 to the Democratic National Committee, as well as $5,000 directly to the campaign of Barack Obama -- maxing out his contributions to Obama as both a primary candidate for the Democratic nomination and as a Democratic candidate for president.

Admittedly, the Supreme Court's controversial "Citizens United" decision makes it hard to track all campaign contributions. Among other things, deep-pocketed contributors can pour millions -- or even billions -- of dollars into super PACs without leaving a trace. Still, the two sites offer some very surprising trivia. For example, Coca Cola Enterprises gave 100% of its political contributions to Republican candidates, while Pepsico hedged its bets, giving 53% of its contributions to Democrats and 47% to Republicans.

Ultimately, this might not affect your leanings when it comes to politics (or cola), but whether you want to vote for the real thing or consider yourself part of the Pepsi generation, it's nice to know whom your money is going to support.

Bruce Watson is a senior features writer for DailyFinance. You can reach him by e-mail at, or follow him on Twitter at @bruce1971.

Also on DailyFinance:

Increase your money and finance knowledge from home

How to Avoid Financial Scams

Avoid getting duped by financial scams.

View Course »

How Financial Planners go Grocery Shopping

Learn to shop smart and save.

View Course »

Add a Comment

*0 / 3000 Character Maximum


Filter by:

That pic kinda looks like John Denver.

November 04 2012 at 9:41 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Only a welfare bum would equate SS with welfare.

November 03 2012 at 9:42 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

Those who need temporary help are not welfare bums. Welfare bums want the taxpayer to take care of them their entire lives and their offspring forever.

November 03 2012 at 9:42 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

It is racist to vote for Obama just because he is black.

November 03 2012 at 9:41 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

Only welfare bums and Commie types still support Obama. Yes, whites are welfare bums sometimes, too.

November 03 2012 at 3:59 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply

One of the most interesting election contribution I have ever heard of is the alleged contribution of Eric Holder's $500,000.00 to the Obama 2008 presidential campaign. Wonder if it had any thing to do with the Fast & Furious investigation that took 19 months to resolve? Vote Obama folks and you'll get more of the same non transparet government. Benghazi anyone and God knows what else...........

November 03 2012 at 10:28 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Escalonz's comment

Dems are such criminals.

November 03 2012 at 3:57 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

What i would like to know is, does Coca Cola still hold the position that it will give no top position to a black employee?

November 03 2012 at 8:50 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

After some serious thought, the Republicans own and control the press so they can get away with the lies and the threats to the rest of America!!!! Will it ever cease.

November 03 2012 at 8:20 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to ralphroberta's comment

Your comment is indeed baffling in view of the incredible power of the liberal media. Get more sleep Ralph and above all read more and the truth will set you free...............

November 03 2012 at 10:35 AM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply

ralphy, it is the liberals who own and control the press. If you open your eyes, you will see.

November 03 2012 at 3:58 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

Seems to me if the Republican Party can publize how the rich are backing them, the Senate Republicans can stop the release of the Congressional Research Service Report on Tax Cuts For The Wealthy, which states, "lowering marginal tax rates for the wealthiest Americans had no effect on economic growth or job creation." And some of the wealth can make statements that they will layoff workers if President Obama is reelected, just what does that say about our great country!!!! How can we allow the smaller number of rich dictate to the masses about this election!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

November 03 2012 at 8:14 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to ralphroberta's comment

You still need more sleep and to read more Ralph. Good luck...............

November 03 2012 at 10:40 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
George & Nancy

Only in America, does it cost $1 billion to gain a job that only pays $800K a year for 4 years. No wonder we're in hock up to our eyeballs.

November 03 2012 at 5:24 AM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply