For GOP hopefuls, ties to Big Money loom large

  • AP Photo/Brennan Linsley

    The official theme for tonight's Republican Presidential Debate -- "Your Money, Your Vote" -- is apt for two reasons: It speaks to ongoing public anxiety about the state of the economy, while also echoing the populist rhetoric that has been a hallmark of this year's race and that increasingly divides the GOP.

    A litmus test, as the U.S. continues to recover from the 2008 financial crisis, is the relationship between the candidates and moneyed interests, notably Wall Street. With talk on both sides of the aisle about reining in the nation's biggest banks, Americans expressing concerns about the torrent of money into politics and broader concerns about the fate of the middle class, Big Money may amount to a political handicap.

    "American voters never liked their candidates to be tied too closely to Wall Street. That may be a little more of the case now," said Peter Woolley, professor of political science for Fairleigh Dickinson University.

    The banking and investment sectors alone are expected to spend $200 million during the 2016 electoral cycle.

    Not surprisingly, self-styled political outsiders Ben Carson and Donald Trump have been loudest in highlighting their independence from special interests and expressing open hostility toward the status quo in Washington. To that end, they have emphasized how they they fund their campaigns to signal their political autonomy.

    Read on to learn more about where the candidates are getting their money.