Financial-services firms and trade associations, as well as their employees, spent a record $2.9 billion on campaign donations and lobbying in the 2019-20 election cycle, according to a new report by Americans for Financial Reform (AFR).
Bloomberg LP, founded by former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, spent the most cash, and Sen. Jon Ossoff, a Georgia Democrat, received more money than any other current member of Congress, the report said.
The sector spent around 2.5 times more money on electing President Joe Biden than it did on reelecting former President Donald Trump, the data showed.
The total spend was around 50% more than the previous record, when the financial-services industry spent $2 billion during the 2015-16 election cycle.
The financial-services industry donated $1.96 billion to House, Senate, and presidential candidates seeking election in the 2019-20 election cycle, and spent $932.9 million on lobbying across 2019 and 2020, per the report.
AFR based its analysis on contributions reported by both financial-services companies and trade associations and individual employees between January 1, 2019 and December 31, 2020. CNBC first reported on its findings.
Bloomberg LP gave the most money
In total, nearly 600 financial-sector companies and trade associations spent at least $500,000 on contributions and lobbying across 2019 and 2020, per the report. It added that there were more than 2,000 registered lobbyists working across the sector.
These are the 20 companies and associations who spent the most, according to the AFR:
- Bloomberg LP — $158.9 million
- National Association of Realtors (NAR) — $154.3 million
- Fahr LLC — $70.7 million
- Citadel LLC — $69.3 million
- Blackstone Group — $49.5 million
- Charles Schwab & Co — $35.6 million
- Susquehanna International Group — $30.7 million
- American Bankers Association (ABA) — $26.6 million
- Paloma Partners — $25.5 million
- Bain Capital — $22.0 million
- Renaissance Technologies — $21.3 million
- Stephens Group — $18.4 million
- Elliott Management — $17.0 million
- Wells Fargo — $16.8 million
- Intercontinental Exchange Inc — $16.2 million
- Lone Pine Capital — $15.2 million
- Ryan Specialty Group — $15.1 million
- Euclidean Capital — $14.4 million
- American Property Casualty Insurance Association (APCIA) — $13.9 million
- Securities Industry & Financial Market Association (SIFMA) — $13.8 million
Mike Bloomberg briefly ran for president before pumping his fortunes into helping Biden beat Trump.
Who received the funding
The financial-services sector gave $982.8 million in party-coded contributions across 2019 and 2020 through both individual employee donations and PACs, the report said. Of this, 47% went to Republicans and 53% went to Democrats.
Current congressional candidates received $311 million in contributions from the financial sector to their campaign committees and leadership PACs, according to the AFR.
The 10 current members of Congress who received the largest amounts were:
- Sen. Jon Ossoff (D-GA) — $6.5 million
- Sen. Mark Kelly (D-AZ) — $6.3 million
- Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) — $6.2 million
- Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) — $5.5 million
- Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-GA) — $5.3 million
- Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) — $5.1 million
- Sen. John Hickenlooper (D-CO) — $4.9 million
- Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) — $4.8 million
- Sen. (D-MI) — $4.7 million
- Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) — $4.5 million
These donations were dwarfed by contributions to some candidates who ran for reelection but didn't retain their seats. Republicans David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, both running in the Georgia Senate races, each received more than $9 million in donations from the financial-services industry.
Wall Street "seems to have made a particular effort to preserve Republican control of the Senate to both lock in pro-industry measures passed during the Trump administration and to forestall reform under President Biden," the AFR wrote in the report.
Despite almost equal support for Democratic and Republican candidates, the sector donated overwhelming towards Biden's presidential campaign over Trump's.
The finance, insurance, and real estate sector contributed $252.6 million towards Biden's campaign and external groups supporting him – more than twice as much as the $103.3 million given to Trump, according to the AFR.
In the aftermath of January insurrection at the Capitol, dozens of top US companies halted political donations, including Walmart, Amazon, Morgan Stanley, Dow, and AT&T. Some stopped donating to both Democrats and Republicans, and some to specifically to the 147 GOP lawmakers who voted against certifying Biden as president.