Bernie Sanders has stunned the political establishment by running an extremely well-financed populist campaign–funded by more than three million donations from individuals chipping in an average of only $27 each. But that doesn’t mean the Big Money players have disappeared. In fact, they’re bigger than ever, effectively buying all the other campaigns except Donald Trump’s (and that because he’s mostly his own fat cat). Politico.com recently analyzed the presidential “investments” made so far by the 100 largest campaign financiers, finding that as of January 1, this tiny clique of megadonors had put $195 million into their efforts to purchase a president. The five candidates who’d taken the most from Politico’s 100 fat cats are Jeb Bush ($49 million), Hillary Clinton ($38 million), Ted Cruz ($37 million), Marco Rubio ($22 million), and Chris Christie ($8 million). The list of 100 ultra-richies actually packs a total political punch that’s even greater than the $195 million reported by Politico, for that number does not include the undisclosed “dark money” that many funders funnel through non-profit front groups and shell companies. These secret donations by billionaires and corporations give new meaning to the phrase “filthy rich.”

The democracy-crushing weight of 100 fat cats

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