They are heirs and heiresses, self-made millionaires and philanthropists. They are health care CEOs, financial analysts, venture capitalists, general contractors, scientists, authors and lawyers.
They are some of this nation's biggest "Power Players."
The Investigative News Network and some of its member newsrooms have taken a unique look at the largest campaign finance donors from each of these states to candidates and committees in federal elections and all 50 states.
INN used data from two of its members, the National Institute on Money in State Politics and the Center for Responsive Politics, to analyze the top individual donors from about a dozen states. Participating INN member newsrooms then published stories about the Power Players' backgrounds and motivations.
The Power Players collaboration also marks the first interactive news app produced by the INN technology team. Find the app here.
What's in the app and how did we do it?
This data includes money donated directly to candidates and committees but does not include so-called "dark money" given to outside spending groups that are not required to disclose their donors. At the state level, this data includes money donated from individuals to candidates, party committees and ballot issues but not to other committees because the data has not been vetted for accuracy by the National Institute for Money in State Politics.
The date range included is from Jan. 1, 2011 through June 30, 2014 for federal data and Jan. 1, 2011 through various dates for the 50 states, depending on individual states' filing deadlines and systems.
The stories published by participating INN members:
- "New Jersey's most generous donors to political causes and super PACs" by NJ Spotlight.
- IowaWatch published two stories, finding that Iowa's top donors play on a national level and that the top contributors skew Republican, although the top donor is a Democrat.
- New Mexico In-Depth examined the diversity of its top 10 donors, showing that they were from around the state and from various backgrounds. A couple of them even expressed distaste for dark money and big money in politics.
- Pinetree Watchdog in Maine looked at the current election cycle only and found nearly $4 million from its top 10 donors.
- Rocky Mountain I-News in Denver gave interesting facts about each of its top 10 donors. One of them founded the company that made Hot Pockets, and another is considered among the top influential donors to GLBT issues in the country.
- The Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting gave a breakdown of the top 10 donors, which feature healthcare CEOs, horse farm owners and other business people, using the individual embeds from the INN news app.
- And at the Montana Center for Investigative Reporting, Editor Jeremy Chapman used the news app and provided analysis as a blog post to round up the election.