Liberal ‘guardian angel’ donors surpass conservatives in spending

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Tom Steyer (pictured) is the biggest “guardian angel” donor this election cycle. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Guardian angel super PACs are one way for powerful donors to strategically direct their political funds toward specific candidates.

This cycle, many well-known, mega donors served as the guardian angels for one or more super PACs. To be considered a guardian angel, an individual must be the number one donor for that super PAC, and their giving must make up 40 percent or more of the contributions to a committee.

The Center for Responsive Politics identified 22 of these donors who gave over $200 million to these super PACs during the midterms.

Some of the guardian angels from this cycle include Sheldon and Miriam Adelson, Jeff and Mackenzie Bezos, Michael Bloomberg, Robert and Diana Mercer, George Soros, Thomas and Kathryn Steyer, and Richard and Elizabeth Uihlein.

The Steyers and the Adelsons’ donations combined make up over half of the total guardian angel contributions.

Earlier this cycle, the Center for Responsive Politics reported that conservative donors gave more as guardian angels compared to liberals.

After the midterms, liberal donors caught up to conservative guardian angels — giving $96 million while conservatives gave $94 million.

These guardian angel donors will sometimes fund single-candidate super PACs. During the midterms, only two candidates who benefited from these committees won their races: Josh Hawley and Steve Watkins.

Missouri Rising Action, primarily funded by David Humphreys, raised $2.4 million for Hawley, who won Missouri’s Senate seat. Humphreys, a Missouri businessman, contributed $1.1 million of those funds. The Uihleins are the guardian angels for CFG Action Missouri, which raised $3.5 million for Hawley’s campaign. The pair gave $2 million to the super PAC.

In his Kansas House race, Watkins’ father — also named Steven — funded his single-candidate super PAC, Kansans Can Do Anything. Watkins gave 99 percent of the committee’s $776,020.

Steyer, a liberal hedge fund manager, was the biggest guardian angel this cycle. He gave a total of $58.7 million to two super PACs: Need to Impeach and NextGen Climate Action. He supplied nearly all of the funds raised by both of these PACs.

The Adelsons, two of the most powerful conservative donors, came in second, giving $52 million. The pair gave $50 million to the Senate Leadership Fund, over 40 percent of the $121.4 million the super PAC raised. They gave $2 million to Ending Spending Action Fund, over half of the committee’s $3.6 million receipts.

The Uihleins — by far — gave to the most of these super PACs. They are the guardian angels for eight super PACs, giving a total of $25.4 million.

Bezos, the founder and CEO of Amazon, gave $10 million to the cross-partisan With Honor Fund, which raised a total of $18.5 million. Bloomberg, former New York City mayor, gave $30.3 million to his Independence USA PAC, 99 percent of the committee’s receipts. Soros, a powerful liberal donor, gave a total of $5.6 million to two super PACs: United for Progress and Win Justice PAC.

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