By: Jason EasleyJuly 24th, 2012see more posts by Jason Easley
In front of a Senate panel today, Sen. Bernie Sanders outed the 26 billionaires who are members of 23 billionaire families that are using Citizens United to buy elections. Sen. Sanders estimated that these 26 billionaires are the tip of the iceberg. “My guess is that number is really much greater because many of these contributions are made in secret. In other words, not content to own our economy, the 1 percent want to own our government as well.”
Sanders explained how the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision put the government up for sale, “What the Supreme Court did in Citizens United is to say to these same billionaires and the corporations they control: ‘You own and control the economy, you own Wall Street, you own the coal companies, you own the oil companies. Now, for a very small percentage of your wealth, we’re going to give you the opportunity to own the United States government.’”
Sen. Sanders also did the last thing the billionaires wanted. He called them out by name.
According to the report, America for Sale: A Report on Billionaires Buying the 2012 Election, here are the 26 billionaires who are trying to buy your government:
1). Sheldon Adelson, owner of the Las Vegas Sands Casino, is worth nearly $25 billion, making him the 14th wealthiest person in the world and the 7th richest person in America. While median family income plummeted by nearly 40% from 2007-2010, Mr. Adelson has experienced a nearly eightfold increase in his wealth over the past three years (from $3.4 billion to $24.9 billion). Forbes recently reported that Adelson is willing to spend a “limitless” amount of money or more than $100 million to help defeat President Obama in November.
2. The Kochs (David, Charles, and William) are worth a combined $103 billion, according to Forbes. They have pledged to spend about $400 million during the 2012 election season. The Kochs own more wealth than the bottom 41.7 percent of American households or more than 49 million Americans.
3. Jim Walton is worth $23.7 billion. He has donated $300,000 to super PACs in 2012.
4. Harold Simmons is worth $9 billion. He has donated $15.2 million to super PACs this year.
5. Peter Thiel is worth $1.5 billion. He has donated $6.7 million to Super PACs this year.
6. Jerrold Perenchio is worth $2.3 billion. He has donated $2.6 million to super PACs this year.
7. Kenneth Griffin is worth $3 billion and he has given $2.08 million to super PACs in 2012.
8. James Simons is worth $10.7 billion and he has given $1.5 million to super Pacs this year.
9. Julian Robertson is worth $2.5 billion and he has given $1.25 million to super PACs this year.
10. Robert Rowling is worth $4.8 billion and he has given $1.1 million to super PACs.
11. John Paulson, the hedge fund manager who made his fortune betting that the sub-prime mortgage market would collapse, is worth $12.5 billion. He has donated $1 million to super PACs.
12. Richard and J.W. Marriott are worth a combined $3.1 billion and they have donated $2 million to super PACs this year.
13. James Davis is worth $1.9 billion and he has given $1 million to super PACs this year.
14. Harold Hamm is worth $11 billion and he has given $985,000 to super PACs this year.
15. Kenny Trout is worth more than $1.2 billion and he has given $900,000 to super PACs this year.
16. Louis Bacon is worth $1.4 billion and he has given $500,000 to super PACs this year.
17. Bruce Kovner is worth $4.5 billion and he has given $500,000 to super PACs this year.
18. Warren Stephens is worth $2.7 billion and he has given $500,000 to super PACs this year.
19. David Tepper is worth $5.1 billion and he has given $375,000 to super PACs this year.
20. Samuel Zell is worth $4.9 billion and he has given $270,000 to super PACs this year.
21. Leslie Wexner is worth $4.3 billion and he has given $250,000 to super PACs this year.
22. Charles Schwab is worth $3.5 billion and he has given $250,000 to super PACs this year.
23. Kelcy Warren is worth $2.3 billion and he has given $250,000 to super PACs this year.
The thing that these billionaires love most about Citizens United it is that it allows them to operate in total darkness. The American people couldn’t fight back because the billionaires were giving their money anonymously. This same cloak of invisibility is what made ALEC so effective for years. The conservative billionaire cabal works best in private, behind closed doors, far away from curious eyes.
With his report today, Sen. Sanders has made it more difficult for thieves of liberty to keep operating in the night. We now have a list of names and we know what they are trying to do to our government. Sen. Sanders is one of the few federally elected officials who has the courage to talk about these people in public.
Most of the members of the House and Senate are too afraid to speak of, much less take on, the billionaires. Even those decent members of Congress who might speak out against them have been terrified into silence by threats of multimillion dollar negative ad buys that will run against the incumbent back home.
Bernie Sanders is displaying a brand of political courage that is sorely lacking in American politics today, and he needs you to stand with him to protect our liberties, our freedoms, and to battle to return the government back to the American people.