Whom Does the Highlands Support?

Several large contributions to federal candidates

By Chip Rowe

After Rep. Joaquin Castro of Texas, a Democrat, last week posted on Twitter the names of 44 donors in El Paso who have given the maximum $2,800 to Donald Trump’s re-election campaign, the president’s son alleged that Castro had “shared personal information” about them and compared the tweet to a hit list.

In fact, information on how much individuals give to federal candidates and/or political action committees (PACs) is easy to find — it’s posted online by the Federal Election Commission and can be searched by name, city, zip code, candidate or employer. Even people who gave $1 — presumably to help their candidates qualify for the Democratic debates — are included.

Individuals may give up to $2,800 per federal candidate per election (primary and general), as well as annual contributions of up to $5,000 to PACs, $10,000 to state party committees and $35,500 to national party committees. (So-called “Super PACs” can accept unlimited money.)

In the first six months of 2019, a Philipstown resident gave $100,000 to the Super PAC American Bridge 21st Century, which calls itself “the opposition research engine of the Democratic Party,” and another $15,500 to Democratic candidates and PACs.

Another Philipstown resident gave $60,900 to Democratic candidates, including $25,000 to a fundraising committee called the Nancy Pelosi Victory Fund ($21,500 went to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) and $3,500 to Pelosi, a California Democrat who is the speaker of the House).

In Garrison, the largest individual donor gave $27,150 to Democratic candidates, including $13,400 to Adam Schiff, a California representative who chairs the House Intelligence Committee, and his PAC.

In Beacon, by contrast, the two largest contributions were $1,200 to the DCCC and $1,000 to Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, whose district includes the Highlands.

The largest contribution to a Republican candidate was $10,000 from a Garrison resident to the president’s Great America Super PAC. He also gave $1,000 to the re-election campaign of Lindsay Graham, the senator from South Carolina.

The chart below, which can be clicked to enlarge, includes candidates and PACS that received at least $75 in donations from Highlands residents in the first six months of 2019, according to the FEC. The number of donors is in parentheses following each total.

contributions chart
Click to enlarge.

4 Responses to "Whom Does the Highlands Support?"

  1. Sara Dulaney   August 18, 2019 at 11:14 pm

    This is really a remarkable document. It’s surprising that there seems to be so little attention to it. We are really a “blue” corner here, with some huge Philipstown generosity to liberal candidates (and $429 to make America great again). Wow.

  2. Frank Haggerty   August 21, 2019 at 8:59 am

    There is much useful data here — much to learn I would think.

    One issue that jumps out at me is that in the concept of a one dollar-one vote system of American political and money influence, the city of Beacon, with its population of perhaps about 16,000, is clearly vastly outvoted not only by the Town of Philipstown, apparently including the village of Cold Spring, with its population of close to 10,000, but also by the hamlet of Garrison, with its far smaller population of perhaps 2,000.

    Another revelation is of a somewhat more curious note. This is the surprising amount of (I would guess we are talking local dollars here) that support non-national (non-presidential) candidates for office — for Congress — i.e., for candidates who presumably are residents of entirely different parts of the country.

  3. Lonnie Spinozza-Johnson   August 22, 2019 at 8:10 pm

    We have a historic chance to shake up New York state politics for the better, but we only have a few months to make it happen.

    Right now, candidates and elected officials spend hundreds of hours calling wealthy donors and seeking support from lobbyists and corporations to secure the funds they need to run for office. Because of New York’s ridiculously high campaign-contribution limits, those with the biggest wallets remain the most important actors.

    This past legislative session, New York came closer than ever to passing historic campaign-finance reform. But the Democratic-controlled legislature punted the decision in March to a nine-member Public Campaign Financing Commission.

    This commission has the power to drastically change the way state campaigns are financed. Lowering contribution limits and instituting a 6-to-1 match on small-dollar donations would level the playing field.

    This is an unprecedented opportunity — one that the commission needs to take seriously. It’s time we shift the balance of political power toward working families.

    • mm
      Site Editor   August 22, 2019 at 8:14 pm

      The commission held its first meeting on Wednesday (Aug. 21); its recommendations are due by Dec. 1 and will be binding unless modified by the Legislature within 20 days. The commission has the power to authorize that the state match up to $100 million annually in small campaign contributions.