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Hand that feeds you

26 July 2016 By Gina Chon

Hillary Clinton’s 1 percent dilemma just got more awkward. Progressive Senators Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts kicked off the Democratic convention on Monday in Philadelphia blasting the rich. With inequality atop the party platform, they told a cheering crowd that they expect the former secretary of state to rein in millionaires. Yet, they are her biggest donors.

The speakers Monday night highlighted the economic tensions in the United States. Sanders, who proved a formidable rival in Clinton’s White House bid, focused his keynote speech on his inequality mantra, saying “it is not moral, not acceptable … that the top one-tenth of 1 percent now own almost as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent.” Warren noted that chief executives are making tens of millions of dollars, “but it isn’t trickling down to hard-working families.”

Both of them relied heavily on small donors for funding their election bids, which allowed them to note they weren’t beholden to special corporate interests. Sanders thanked the Americans who contributed an average of $27 each to his campaign. That led him to raise 60 percent of his funds, or $134 million, from donors putting in $200 or less, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

Clinton’s tepid performance with small contributors has forced her to rely on big money. Only 19 percent of her donations came from individuals contributing $200 or less. Wall Street is her largest industry donor, with $41 million going into her coffers. Her biggest contributors have ties to Saban Capital, founded by Univision owner Haim Saban.

He’s followed by algorithmic hedge fund Renaissance Technologies, which has given $9.5 million, and the Pritzker Group, whose family founded the Hyatt hotel chain and gave nearly $8 million. Penny Pritzker is currently the secretary of commerce. The large donations have become critical as her campaign is burning through cash faster than her Republican opponent, Donald Trump.

The wealthy backing Clinton are likely to have some progressive ideals, including taxing people like themselves at higher rates. One such proposal, after all, is called the Buffett Rule because of its support from billionaire Warren Buffett. But with inequality ruling the platform, she will need to strike a difficult balance should she ultimately win the election.

 

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