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10 Companies Making the Biggest Political Donations

Publicly traded companies are funneling big money into campaigns


#5: Dreamworks Animation

Total contributions (2012-ongoing): $2,370,150
Donations to Democratic Party: 99%
Donations to Republican Party: 1%
Spending on lobbying (2012-ongoing): N/A
Industry: Movie Production

Though Dreamworks Animation (NASDAQ:DWA) is a relatively small business, with just about 2,100 full-time employees and a $1.6 billion market cap, the company is an extremely large contributor to the Democratic Party and related organizations. Most of the movie production company’s contributions — $2,125,000, or 90% of donations — support outside spending groups, including PACs, instead of individual campaigns. And almost all of this support is from CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg. He became one of the largest donors in the country after giving $2 million to Priorities USA Action, an organization committed to the re-election of President Obama.

#4: AT&T

Total contributions (2012-ongoing): $2,504,219
Donations to Democratic Party: 35%
Donations to Republican Party: 65%
Spending on lobbying (2012-ongoing): $7,050,000
Industry: Telecom Services

Since SBC Communications bought AT&T Corp. in 2005, the newly formed AT&T, Inc. (NYSE:T) has been one of the largest political donors in the country, with more than $18 million in contributions since the acquisition. The telecom was the largest political contributor among all public companies in 2006 and in 2010. For 2012, the board of directors approved a maximum amount of $6.5 million in total contributions to political candidates, parties, PACs and other groups. AT&T also lobbies extensively, having spent more than $7 million on lobbying so far in 2012 — more than any publicly traded company.

#3: Comcast Corporation

Total contributions (2012-ongoing): $2,774,151
Donations to Democratic Party: 64%
Donations to Republican Party: 36%
Spending on lobbying (2012-ongoing): $4,600,000
Industry: Cable TV

Three times in the past twelve years cable company Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) has been one of the largest corporate political donors in the U.S. Since 2008, election cycle contributions by the company and its employees have totaled more than $9 million. In the present cycle, contributions from Comcast have come in almost equal measure from private individuals within the company and from the organization’s own PAC, called the Comcast Corporation Political Action Committee. Of particular note, Executive Vice President David Cohen was the largest direct donor at the company, contributing $194,650.

#2: Goldman Sachs

Total contributions (2012-ongoing): $4,769,994
Donations to Democratic Party: 29%
Donations to Republican Party: 71%
Spending on lobbying (2012-ongoing): $1,380,000
Industry: Diversified Investments

Over the past decade many of the largest corporate donors have been financial firms. And no financial company has contributed as much money or as consistently as Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS), which has given $39 million since 1989. Since 2000, Goldman has been one of the ten largest political donors among publicly traded companies in every election cycle, a distinction unique to the company. Twice, in 2004 and 2008, the company contributed more to political campaigns than any other business in the U.S. In the 2008 election cycle, Goldman spent slightly more than $7 million, the most it has ever contributed.

#1: Las Vegas Sands

Total contributions (2012-ongoing): $11,738,600
Donations to Democratic Party: 0%
Donations to Republican Party: 100%
Spending on lobbying (2012-ongoing): $30,000
Industry: Resorts and Casinos

So far in this election cycle, political contributions from casino and resort operator Las Vegas Sands (NYSE:LVS) have exceeded donations from any publicly traded company, including those in the defense, financial and telecom industries, which usually make up the nation’s largest corporate political contributors. The majority of company’s contributions, $10 million, came from Sands’ CEO Sheldon Adelson. In addition, Adelson and his wife Miriam made individual contributions totaling $15 million through the Adelson Drug Clinic, a methadone clinic managed by Miriam Adelson. Most of this money has gone to outsider groups, rather than directly to candidates or parties, with the Gingrich-backing Winning Our Future PAC receiving donations of $5 million and $2.5 million.

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