Politico’s Kenneth Vogel reports on the 100 biggest poitical campaign givers in 2014 and includes some of the most extensive remarks I’ve seen yet about the prolific giving by poultry tycoon Ron Cameron of Little Rock, who gave $4.2 million, 13th on the list
(This ranking doesn’t include state-level giving nor does it include important giving to certain types of nonprofits that engage in political activity but aren’t required to report donors.)
The 100 biggest givers contributed $323 million, almost as much as the cumulative sum given by the 4.75 million people who gave $200 or less. The growing influence of the ultrawealthy causes concern among some quoted in the article, but not Cameron:
And Ronnie Cameron, an Arkansas poultry company owner who ranked 13th on POLITICO’s list, asserted that, while he and his fellow mega-donors may be writing bigger checks these days, it hasn’t fundamentally changed American politics.
“I doubt the amount of influence is any more concentrated in the hand of a few than it was in the 1950s or 1960s,” said Cameron. He donated $4.2 million between his company Mountaire Corp. and his personal checkbook to GOP-allied candidates and groups, ranging from maximum $5,200 donations to successful Senate candidates Tom Cotton of Arkansas and Joni Ernst of Iowa to $1.3 million worth of checks to the Republican Governors Association to $2 million to Freedom Partners Action Fund, the super PAC affiliated with the Koch brothers’ political operation. “There have always been wealthy individuals that had influence,” Cameron pointed out, adding, “Our country was founded by the wealthy landowners having the authority and representing all the people.”
Faulting POLITICO for omitting contributions from labor unions, which lean left, in its analysis (though it also omitted contributions from most major corporations, which tend to lean right), Cameron asserted that wealthy conservative donors — even at their most potent — would only offset the liberal tendencies of influential institutions. “Between Hollywood, the media and the unions, their huge influence by a relative few has long exceeded the influence paid for by people able and willing to give personal money to deliver a message.”
Warren and Harriet Stephens of the Stephens Inc. financial empire appear on the list at No. 21, with $3.265 million in 2014 contributions. Cameron’s contributions are in his name, his wife’s and Mountaire Poultry.
USA Today reported earlier that Stephens and Cameron were among the biggest givers to Super PACs alone.