You Know That Meme About Hillary’s Vs. Bernie’s Campaign Donors? It’s A Lie

If you spend any time on Facebook, you’ve probably seen this meme posted by Bernie Sanders followers:


Meme courtesy of Daily Kos

Yikes, that’s pretty damning, right? Bernie seems to have all the union support while Clinton, as so many people say, is in the pockets of Wall Street. Well, it’s not so simple when you find out how the math was done.

First off, this meme represents entire careers, not the current campaign. In fact, OpenSecrets, which is where these numbers came from, only shows through 2014.

For both candidates, there’s a little bit of numerical trickery. It’s illegal to list the actual donors, so if an employee or an employee’s family donates, because of the way the form is filled out, it’s likely to show up either under the company name or the union name. In other words, Citigroup, which sounds more like a Republican contributor than a Democratic one, could be just $782,000 worth of individuals.

Well, it’s not quite that, but close. 98 percent of Clinton’s contributions have been from individuals and many of them come from unions. In 2008, Clinton’s largest contributions came from county, state and municipal employees. As for Citigroup, no, $782,000 didn’t come from individuals. That was only $774,000. The remaining $8,000 came from the financial firm. $8,000. Goldman Sachs gave her $10,000 over her entire career and JPMorgan Chase, just $3,000.

Graph courtesy of Daily Kos

Graph courtesy of Daily Kos

What about now? Well, the media has been reporting that Clinton, who vowed to help stop the “endless flow of secret, unaccountable money,” now has a Super PAC. Well, legally, Super PACs and candidates can’t coordinate, so at least according to the letter of the law, she doesn’t have a Super PAC. Some supporters do and for now, they are staying anonymous.

But Bernie Sanders doesn’t have a Super PAC, right? Wrong. Much of his campaign has rightfully been about money in politics and he’s vowed to limit himself to individual donations, but as with Clinton, he can’t control what others do and some billionaires have set up a Super┬áPAC for Sanders. Other Sanders Super PACs are in the works.

So what does this information leave us with? It leaves us with the knowledge that campaign finance is a mess and that even the candidates with the best of intentions can become inadvertent benefactors of dirty money. Oh, and as far as campaign donations, the two Democratic candidates don’t look as different as some would lead you to believe.

Featured image via Flickr.