Backer of Democrats and hedge fund billionaire James H. Simons jumps to No. 8 on The Center for Public Integrity’s list of top donors to super PACs, surpassing his former protégé, GOP supporter Robert Mercer, who ranks No. 9.
Democrats also came up with a counter to pro-Republican homebuilder Bob Perry (No. 3 with a bullet), who backed efforts in Texas to pass laws that lower jury verdicts. Husband-and-wife trial lawyers Steve and Amber Mostyn, also of Texas, make their first appearance on the list at No. 10.
Super PACs — organizations that formed in the wake of the Citizens United Supreme Court decision — filed reports with the Federal Election Commission last week.
Simons is founder and non-executive chairman of Renaissance Technologies, a Long Island-based hedge fund with $15 billion under management. He has given a total of $4 million to super PACs, including $2 million to pro-President Barack Obama group Priorities USA Action.
Robert Mercer is Renaissance’s co-CEO. He is a prolific Republican contributor and has given $3.4 million in contributions to super PACs so far this election cycle, including $1 million to pro-Republican super PAC American Crossroads and $1 million to pro-Mitt Romney super PAC Restore Our Future.
Super PACs can accept unlimited contributions from corporations, billionaires and labor unions and spend the money on ads urging voters to support or oppose a candidate. They are not permitted to coordinate with the candidate’s campaign, however.
The Mostyns $3.3 million in donations included $2 million to Priorities USA Action. The total is small potatoes compared with Perry's, who has given $16 million to super PACs, including $8 million to Restore Our Future and $6.5 million to American Crossroads.
The top two donors remain the same.
Casino magnate Sheldon Adelson and family are still far and away the top donors at nearly $38 million. Adelson, who single-handedly kept former House Speaker Newt Gingrich’s candidacy for the GOP presidential nomination alive, has shifted his spending to Restore Our Future, having donated $10 million along with wife Miriam.
The No. 2 spot goes to Harold Simmons, a Texas billionaire who has given nearly $19 million, $8 million of which has gone to American Crossroads.
For a complete list of the most prolific donors, a set of super donor playing cards and more profiles please go here.