To put things into perspective, here are the high tech, media, and telecom companies that hit the top donors list in the time period from 1989 and 2010 (numbers in parentheses indicate rank among top donors) using data from OpenSecrets.org:
- AT&T (T): $45.65 million (1)
- Microsoft (MSFT): $21.04 million (27)
- Time Warner (TWX): $20.03 million (30)
- Verizon Communications (VZ): $19.32 million (33)
- BellSouth Corp: $12.99 million (64)
- Walt Disney Co (DIS): $11.61 million (70)
- Comcast Corp (CCW): $11.19 million (76)
- News Corp (NWS): $11 million (79)
- Vivendi (VIV): $4.68 million (135)
But the individual company view ignores the total amount that high tech provides. Here's a table showing just the computer and Internet sectors:
The numbers on this page are based on contributions of $200 or more from PACs and individuals to federal candidates and from PAC, soft money and individual donors to political parties, as reported to the Federal Election Commission. While election cycles are shown in charts as 1996, 1998, 2000 etc. they actually represent two-year periods. For example, the 2002 election cycle runs from January 1, 2001 to December 31, 2002.
Pay attention to the rank, which shows where in a group of 80 industries this combined sector stands. Also remember that the 2010 numbers will take some time to come in. On the whole, giving leans toward Democrats.
Here's the table for telephone utilities, which have a slant toward Republicans:
As you might expect, there's a significant tipping toward Democrats, with even more active donating than the computers and Internet sector. Take the three interest sectors together, and you've got $43,316,004 in play for politicians. That's a lot of money in one election cycle, and you can bet that the industry will want a substantial "ear" in return.
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