The 2022 midterm election cycle has seen a monumental increase in spending in the lead-up to Election Day. Research group OpenSecrets estimates that federal election spending increased by nearly $2 billion compared to 2018.
What’s even more astonishing is that out of the $2 billion spent, 10 high-rollers poured $540 million combined into this year’s elections, according to campaign finance data from OpenSecrets.
Most of the donations, however, aren’t going directly to any one individual’s campaign, but have been given to outside groups such as super PACs that can raise and spend unlimited sums on election ads.
Here are the 10 largest donors in the midterms, according to the most recent Federal Election Commission filings compiled by OpenSecrets:
Goerge Soros – Affiliation: Democrat
Total donations: $128.5M
Soros donated $128.5 million to his own outside group, Democracy PAC, which then doled out millions of dollars to several super PACs supporting Democratic candidates.
Soros’s group donated $10.5 million to Senate Majority PAC, a super PAC controlled by Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY). It also gave $1 million to J Street Action Fund, a pro-Israel group that backs Democrats, and Planned Parenthood’s super PAC. If the group makes other donations, they won’t be revealed until after the election.
Richard Uihlein – Affiliation: Republican
Total donations: $80.7M
According to The Hill, the Illinois-based billionaire has emerged as a major force for Republicans in recent elections, and the 2022 election cycle marks his highest donation total. Uihlein’s the top donor to Club for Growth, one of the most powerful conservative super PACs, giving $23.2 million. Uihlein also gave $3.5 million to a group backing Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), continuing his longstanding efforts to influence key Wisconsin races.
Kenneth Griffin – Affiliation: Republican
Total donations: $68.6M
Griffin gave $18.5 million to the Congressional Leadership Fund, a super PAC controlled by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), making him the top individual donor to the group that is backing dozens of House GOP challengers. He gave another $10 million to the Senate Leadership Fund, which is affiliated with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).
Jeff Yass – Affiliation: Republican
Total donations: $47.3M
Yass donated $15 million to the School Freedom Fund, accounting for the vast majority of the Club for Growth-aligned group’s fundraising. He donated $5 million to a super PAC supporting Sen. Rand Paul’s (R-Ky.) reelection and gave $1.9 million in bitcoin to Crypto Freedom PAC, a pro-crypto group that is backing GOP Senate hopeful Blake Masters in Arizona.
Timothy Mellon – Affiliation: Republican
Total donations: $40M
The Wyoming-based billionaire donated $10 million to the Congressional Leadership Fund. He gave another $5 million to the Sentinel Action Fund, a super PAC aligned with the Heritage Foundation’s action fund that spent most of its money on ads attacking Sen. Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.).
A major supporter of former President Trump and his efforts to tighten immigration laws, Mellon received attention for donating $53 million to Texas’s border wall fund last year.
Sam Bankman-Fried – Affiliation: Democrat
Total donations: $39.8M
The billionaire crypto executive sent most of his donations — $28 million — to his Protect Our Future PAC, a super PAC focused on preventing the next pandemic that mostly backed Democrats facing progressives in primaries.
Fred Eychaner – Affiliation: Democrat
Total donations: $35.8M
Eychaner’s the top donor to Democrats’ House Majority PAC. He gave $9 million to House Majority PAC and donated another $8 million to Senate Majority PAC. Eychaner consistently gives the maximum allowed donation to the Democratic National Committee and Democrats’ other campaign committees.
Stephen Schwarzman – Affiliation: Republican
Total donations: $35.5M
The New York City billionaire donated $10 million to both the Senate Leadership Fund and the Congressional Leadership Fund, providing a huge boost to Republicans’ bid to retake control of Congress. He’s been a top 10 donor in each of the last three elections.
Peter Thiel – Affiliation: Republican
Total donations: $32.6M
Thiel is joining the list of top donors for the first time, primarily placing his bets on two GOP Senate hopefuls. He gave $15 million to a super PAC supporting Arizona’s Blake Masters, a former executive at Thiel’s firm, and another $15 million to a super PAC supporting J.D. Vance in Ohio.
Larry Ellison – Affiliation: Republican
Total donations: $31M
With an estimated net worth of nearly $100 billion, according to Forbes, Ellison is by far the wealthiest individual on this list.
The Oracle Corp. chairman donated $20 million to the Opportunity Matters Fund, a super PAC aligned with Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) that is backing GOP candidates in tight Senate races.