Just 158 Families Dominate U.S. Presidential Campaign Contributions

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A sign bearing the name Wilks can be seen on the Faris Wilks compound near Cisco
The Wilks Family compound.Photo: MIKE STONE/© Corbis. All Rights Reserved.

After looking at the donations made to the current crop of presidential candidates, the New York Times reports that $176 million, roughly half of all the money contributed during the first phase of the campaigns, came from only 158 families and the companies those families control. The demographic details about these donors, all of whom gave $250,000 or more, will not likely come as a surprise: The majority are conservative, with 87 percent supporting Republican candidates, and the majority are also white, male, concerned about their privacy, and most of their money has not been made via inheritance or more established American corporations, but has been self-made from risky endeavors in the finance and energy industries. In addition, most of the donors lived near just nine U.S. cities, often as neighbors. One family who earned billions in the recent natural-gas fracking boom, the Wilks of Texas, have donated a nationally leading $15 million, all to Texas senator Ted Cruz. Indeed, the report says that many of the donors, regardless of political affiliation, have supported revolution or reform-minded candidates like Cruz. Also, an additional 200 families donated $100,000 or more, meaning that well more than half of all presidential campaign contributions during the targeted time period came from less than 400 American households.