Most Super PAC Money is Funded by Less than 1% of the 1%

New Report: Auctioning Democracy

OSPIRG Foundation


Matthew Orchant, Policy Associate, [email protected], 503-231-4181, 201-819-0837 (OSPIRG Foundation)

Blair Bowie, [email protected], 202-546-0173 (U.S. PIRG Education Fund)

Most Super PAC Money Funded by Less than 1% of the 1%


Portland, OR 

The report shows that of all itemized contributions from individuals to Super PACs, 93% came in contributions of at least $10,000 from just 726 individuals – or just five-thousanth of one percent of the American population.

“When a group comprised of fewer than 1% of the 1% is able to drown out the voices of ordinary citizens, it strikes at the heart of American democracy,” said OSPIRG Foundation Policy Associate, Matthew Orchant.

The report also found that 17% of all Super PAC money in 2010 and 2011 came from for-profit business treasuries. 6.4% of the itemized funds raised by Super PACs since 2010 was “secret money,” not feasibly traceable to its original source. A month-to month analysis of spending in 2010 and 2011 suggests that the months leading up to the 2012 election will see an unprecedented surge in secret money.

“We should not be surprised that when the stakes rise, powerful special interests choose to push their money all-in,” continued Mr. Orchant.

In Auctioning Democracy, Demos and U.S. PIRG offer recommendations for pushing back on the influence of Super PACs, specifically tailored to the Federal Election Commission, the Securities and Exchange Commission, the White House, the United States Congress, State Legislatures and even Municipal Governments.

“The Securities and Exchange Commission must act immediately to force publicly traded corporations to disclose their political spending,” said Mr. Orchant, “Ultimately, the people must rise up and amend our Constitution to make perfectly clear that the First Amendment is not a tool for use by large corporations and wealthy donors to dominate the political process.”

Auctioning Democracy includes a both the report and series of infographics, available for use (with attribution).



OSPIRG Foundation conducts research and public education on behalf of consumers and the public interest. Our research, analysis, reports and outreach serve as counterweights to the influence of powerful special interests that threaten our health, safety or well-being.