Introduction: Meet the Donors (05:18)
See Mark Hanna's quote about money in politics and an excerpt from "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington." Hear how some of the Founding Fathers used campaign donations. Watergate led to the public financing of presidential campaign in 1976, this continued until Obama refused the funds in 2008.
The Billionaire Class: Julian H. Robertson (02:37)
OpenSecrets.org tracks campaign donors. Robertson gave one million dollars to Jeb Bush's Super PAC. He maintains hope that Mitt Romney will run again. He claims getting the right person elected is a noble undertaking and is not in any way for personal gain.
The Billionaire Class: Bernard Schwartz (02:38)
Schwartz speaks in support of Hillary Clinton at a political fundraiser. He donates up to 5 million dollars to individual candidates. His patriotic "investment" gives him the right to be heard, though he has never received political favors.
The Billionaire Class: Haim Saban (03:33)
The Clinton's work a fundraiser. Saban refuses to admit how much money he has given them. He will spend millions in this election (within legal limits), which he says will help the politician get their own message to the public.
The Billionaire Class: John Catsimatidis (02:43)
Catsimatidis shows off photos of himself with politicians and at Camp David. He explains why he donates to both republican and democratic candidates. He estimates his lifetime donations at 100 million.
The Billionaire Class: Stanley Hubbard (04:02)
Hubbard proudly displays a copy of the Declaration of Independence. He is against government regulations and says global warming is just politics and would be "the best thing that could happen." The money spent on campaigns is small compared to what is spent on pornography.
The Billionaire Class: Foster Friess (02:31)
Friess supports author of the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act, Rick Santorum. The successful business man is fighting for the restoration of the Judeo-Christian value system.
The Billionaire Class: John Jordan (03:09)
Big donors like Jordan, organize press free private dinners where known donors can meet and mingle with a candidate. He describes the different classes of donors.
The Billionaire Class: Bruce Charash (02:21)
Donating has gotten Charash a great seat at the dinner table and an early place in the line to shake the candidate's hand. The perk of being a donor is the perception of being powerful.
The Billionaire Class: Elizabeth Bagley (02:32)
Bagley is personal friends with Hillary Clinton and she was one of the first to do an event for her. She explains why she is so loyal to the Clintons. President Clinton gave her the position of ambassador to Portugal.
The Billionaire Class: Brad Freeman (02:03)
Freeman has given over a million to the Bush family in his lifetime. He donates because it is fun being "in the game" and says you should not expect anything in return. Bush asked him to watch his cat while he was president.
The Billionaire Class: J.B. Pritzker (02:01)
During an election year, Pritzker is asked for money about three times a week. He donates to those who support issues he cares about. His sister supported Obama and was appointed Secretary of Commerce.
The Billionaire Class: Morris Pearl (01:52)
Pearl says by contributing $20,000 a year, a person can get access to Congressmen. He believes policy makers are not corrupt, they just do not hear from those not "inside their world."
The Billionaire Class: Fred Eshelman (02:08)
Most of the money from rich donors goes to make attack ads like, "Attack of the 50 ft. Pelosi." The founder of RightChange.org believes in individual responsibility and has spent millions of his own money on campaigns.
The Billionaire Class: T. Boone Pickens and Koch Brothers (04:12)
Pickens believes his 2004 ad attacking John Kerry swayed the election in Bush's favor. Even though he donated to republicans he did not get their support for a transportation bill amendment. The Koch brothers have network of donors spending almost a billion dollars in this election.
The Billionaire Class: Tom Steyer (03:20)
Steyer says the biggest donations are undisclosed "dark money." He differentiates between his donations and those of the self-interested, secretive Koch brothers.
The "Special" Interests: Ian Simmons and Toby Neugebauer (02:21)
Special interest groups spend over 3 billion every year on direct lobbying and billions more to influence legislation. Corporations can get huge returns by investing in elections. Neugebauer says he has no more influence than the person writing a $100 check.
The "Special" Interests: Tom Downey and Haley Barbour (03:11)
Bankruptcy laws favor banks and lobbyists push for laws that make it tough for consumers to discharge debts and obligations. Barbour says big businesses give money to be protected from government. See a chart of contributions by U.S. public companies.
The "Special" Interests: Jonathan Soros (03:30)
The Soros family gave 27 million dollars in 2004. The Koch brothers use money to affect the outcome of elections in an undemocratic way. Polls show the public believes elected representatives act in the interest of their donors and not ordinary voters.
The "Special" Interests: Ben Cohen (03:34)
The founder of Ben and Jerry's participates in a rally against big money in politics. Jeffrey Katzenberg believes Citizens United has undermined democracy. Former Congressman Tom Davis says the system is unfair; people without access to money are unable to spread their messages.
The "Special" Interests: Vin Ryan (03:11)
Ryan only gives to politicians who support campaign finance reform. The corroded system treats companies as people and allows for unlimited contributions. Campaign finance reform is necessary to end the current plutocracy.
Final Thoughts: Alexandra Pelosi (00:53)
See archival footage of citizens in line to vote. As more money pours into the election system, is the U.S. becoming a nation only for the wealthy? Money has changed the way people feel about democracy; only half of eligible voters go to the polls.
Credits: Meet The Donors (00:54)
Credits: Meet The Donors
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