For a breakdown of just who's giving what in terms of the candidates, check out these pages for the largest Mitt Romney campaign contributors and the biggest Barack Obama campaign donors of 2012.
The landmark 2010 Supreme Court ruling in the case of Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission made it legal for corporations, unions and other groups to spend money financing independent expenditures, such as PACs, even though it remains illegal for these same groups to give money to candidates directly. This has led to an explosion of PACs in both size and significance, with the largest committees (known as "Super PACs") raising unlimited funds in support of specific candidates.
The Super PACs must remain independent, and are not allowed to coordinate directly with candidates or political parties. They are also legally mandated to disclose their donors, although they are - due to a technicality - allowed to postpone these revelations until after the election they were designed to influence.
This list collects known donors providing the largest contributions to the nation's largest Super PACs. Because not all donors are disclosed before the 2012 Election, the list may not be entirely complete, but it will be updated throughout campaign season.
Chairman and CEO of Las Vegas Sands Corp., owners of Venetian Resort Hotel Casino and Sands Expo and Convention Center. Adelson and his family are to have contributed as much as $21.5 million to the "Winning Our Future" PAC supporting Newt Gingrich.
Once Newt Gingrich dropped out of the Republican presidential race, Sheldon Adelson switched gears -- and candidates. In June of 2012, Adelson reportedly contributed $10 million to the pro-Mitt Romney super PAC "Restore Our Future." That's a ton of cash, but Adelson is estimated to be worth nearly $25 billion.
Adelson's wife, Miriam Adelson, contributed $5 million to the "Winning Our Future" PAC (supporting Newt Gingrich). In June of 2012, it was reported that Adelson will get a "refund" of her money.
#16 on The Top 100 Billionaires
#15 on The Top Billionaires 2013see more on Sheldon Adelson
Texas billionaire and owner of a nuclear-waste disposal company. Contributed $5 million to the American Crossroads Super PAC, $500,000 to the Restore Out Future PAC supporting Mitt Romney, $800,000 to the Winning Our Future PAC supporting Newt Gingrich and $100,000 to the Restoring Prosperity Fund, initially supporting Rick Perry. Simmons also owns Contran Corporation, which donated an additional $2 million to American Crossroads and $1 million to "Make Us Great Again" PAC supporting Rick Perry.
#75 on Famous People Named Haroldsee more on Harold C Simmons
Owner of Perry Homes. Contributed $2.5 million to the (conservative) American Crossroads super PAC and $4 million to "Restore Our Future" PAC supporting Mitt Romney. He also gave $200,000 to the Texas Conservatives Fund and $100,000 to the Make Us Great Again PAC (which supported former Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry).
Also Rankedsee more on Bob J. Perry
CEO of DreamWorks Animation. Contributed $2 million to Obama-affiliated Priorities USA Action PAC.
#157 on The Best Directors of the 2000ssee more on Jeffrey Katzenberg
In June of 2012, actor Morgan Freeman donated $1 million to the Priorities USA Action super PAC, supporting Barack Obama's re-election campaign. Freeman, who also donated to Obama's campaign in 2008, joins several celebrities who are among the largest super PAC donors, including Bill Maher and Jeffrey Katzenberg.
Also Rankedsee more on Morgan Freeman
The CEO of Chartwell Partners' living trust (and former chairman and CEO of Univision) donated $2 million to Karl Rove's American Crossroads super PAC, $500,000 to the Restore Our Future super PAC (supporting Mitt Romney) and $100,000 to the Our Destiny PAC (which supported John Huntsman).
#80 on Famous People Named Jerrysee more on Jerry Perenchio
Executive chairman of Huntsman Corporation and father of former GOP candidate Jon M. Huntsman Jr. Contributed $2.2 million to the Our Destiny super PAC supporting Huntsman's presidential campaign.
Also Rankedsee more on Jon Huntsman, Sr.
Former managing director of Bain Capital. Contributed $1 million to the Restore Our Future super PAC supporting Mitt Romney.
Also Rankedsee more on Edward Conard