By the Numbers: Exploring Campaign Finance in the 2022 US Midterms

The above chart depicts aggregate donations associated with an organization, even if part of that amount came from independent individual donations by employees of the organization. While the 1971 Federal Election Campaign Act forbids PACs from donating more than $5,000 to any candidate in a single election, an organization’s employees or other associated individuals are free to give up to $2,900 of their own money per candidate per election. At large organizations with thousands of members, these amounts can add up quickly, and Open Secrets aggregates this data to create a profile for organizations that includes employee donations. It is important to note, however, that such donation clusters do not necessarily imply organization. According to Open Secrets:

“Of course, it is impossible to know either the economic interest that made each individual contribution possible or the motivation for each individual giver. However, the patterns of contributions provide critical information for voters, researchers and others. That is why Congress mandated that candidates and political parties request employer information from contributors and publicly report it when the contributor provides it. In some cases, a cluster of contributions from the same organization may indicate a concerted effort by that organization to “bundle” contributions to the candidate. In other cases—both with private companies and with government agencies, non-profits and educational institutions—the reason for the contributions may be completely unrelated to the organization. Showing these clusters of contributions from people associated with particular organizations provides a valuable—and unique—way of understanding where a candidate is getting his or her financial support. Knowing those groups is also useful after the election, as issues come before Congress and the administration that may affect those organizations and their industries.”