*George Soros is the chairman of the Open Society Foundation, which provides funding for the Center for Public Integrity. See a list of the Center's donors.
Source/Methodology: Center for Responsive Politics and Center for Public Integrity analysis of Federal Election Commission records. Totals include contributions from individuals, family members and corporations that are controlled by the individual super donor. Totals reflect donations made during the 2011-2012 election cycle, through Nov. 26.
Known as the "king of Superfund sites," in several publications, Harold Simmons owns a ranch in Arkansas that is home to 35 bears and 100 elk. It is also stocked with 250 deer and 300 wild turkeys for hunting, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Simons is an active philanthropist. In addition to chairing the nonprofit Math for America and supporting autism research, he funds a nature preserve and an organization that trains and supports rural health care workers in Nepal.
In a 2008 profile, the Dallas Morning News called Rowling's empire "a grab bag" that includes hotels, fitness centers, oil and gas assets, financial and energy stock, real estate and "even a chain of Mexican dollar stores.”
In 2010, Koch spent $3.1 million on a fake Colorado ghost town that had served as a local tourist attraction and the set for old Westerns, including "True Grit" staring John Wayne. He had the buildings moved to his personal ranch.
Thiel is the creator of the "20 Under 20" program, which gives would-be college students $100,000 each to start their own businesses instead of going to college. He has also donated $1.25 million to the Seasteading Institute, which wants to create undersea colonies that would function as experiments in Libertarian government.
SEIU claims to be "the fastest growing union in North America" with a membership of 2.1 million workers primarily in the service sector, including healthcare, food service, security and janitorial jobs.
Doré wanted to become a teacher and coach, but after making good money selling insurance in college, he decided he wanted a higher standard of living. He began offshore diving, a notoriously dangerous and lucrative line of work.
* William J. Doré made $700 million in 2006 in the sale of Global Industries.
Friess drew criticism for his comment on contraceptives to MSNBC: “You know, back in my days, they’d use Bayer aspirin for contraceptives. The gals put it between their knees, and it wasn’t that costly.”
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 supporterRobert 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.
Online brokerage billionaire Joe Ricketts became a top 10 super donor thanks to a major September spending spree. Ricketts dumped more than $12 million into Ending Spending Action Fund — the super PAC he created to back fiscally conservative candidates.
$15,000 to American Votes Action Fund (pro-Democratic)
Federal hard money and 527 contributions:
Has donated more than $1.4 million to federal candidates through its political action committee so far this cycle, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. All but $4,000 has gone to Democrats.
Total spent on federal lobbying (2007-2012): $11.4 million
Lobbying issues: Medicare and Medicaid, banking, appropriations, automotive industry, defense, defense, retirement savings, taxes, trade, unemployment and numerous other legislative issues.
The United Auto Workers has become a major backer of President Barack Obama and the $81.3 billion federal bailout, which was credited with saving Chrysler and General Motors.
The bailout was a key 2012 campaign issue for Obama and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, especially in the Midwest, where hundreds of thousands of auto workers live.