Jeb Bush’s Campaign Donors Are Really, Really Wealthy

New campaign filings reveal that an astounding portion of Bush’s donors gave the maximum contribution.

Charlie Neibergall/AP


When Jeb Bush’s campaign filed its first financial disclosure, some people focused on how a mere 3 percent of his donations—just $368,000 of the $11.4 million he collected in his first 15 days of campaigning—came from donors who gave $200 or less. That’s a very small amount. By contrast, Bernie Sanders raised 68 percent of his $15.4 million from small donors. Even for a Republican presidential candidate, the paltry amount raised from small donors is striking. In 2012, for example, Mitt Romney’s campaign got 18 percent of its money from donors giving $200 or less.

But perhaps an even more telling figure is how much money Bush’s campaign got from very rich people. We don’t know exactly how rich, but we do know that in the last election, just 0.04 percent of Americans donated the maximum of $2,600 to a candidate (donors can give twice that much if they donate to a candidate for both the primary and general election). And Bush’s filing today reveals that an astonishing $9.3 million—or 81 percent of his total haul—came from people donating $2,700, the inflation-adjusted equivalent of last year’s maximum.

Many Democratic and Republican campaigns look to an elite group of wealthy donors for backing. But what sets Bush apart is that he’s almost entirely funded by them.

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

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It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

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We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

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Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

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