According to https://www.opensecrets.org/politicians/contrib.php?cid=N00000019&cycle=Career Goldman Sachs has contributed a little more than one million dollars to Hillary Clinton over the course of her career. Statistics like these are often cited to demonstrate a candidates corruption but it seems to me like these statistics are kinda being twisted.

Correct me if I'm wrong but it's my understanding that all of these contributions are coming from individuals. They can donate as much as $2,700 to individual candidates but when they donate they have to say whom their employer is. So it's not Goldman Sachs that's donating the money - it's a bunch of their employees. The majority shareholders may prefer one candidate while the employees could prefer another.

Is my analysis correct?

  • Somewhat tangential, but this only counts direct contributuions, not PACs and super PACs (the latter of which, if memory serves, are far more opaque)
    – user4012
    Commented Jan 15, 2017 at 20:17
  • @user4012 - I think in the case of super PACs they can promote candidates but they can't outright give their money to the candidates?
    – neubert
    Commented Jan 16, 2017 at 14:43

1 Answer 1


Unfortunately your analysis is incorrect. Corporations can give directly to candidates.

In US vs William Danielczyk

"If human beings can make direct campaign contributions within FECA's limits without risking quid pro quo corruption or its appearance, and if, in Citizens United's interpretation of Bellotti, corporations and human beings are entitled to equal political speech rights, then corporations must also be able to contribute within FECA's limits," (Federal Judge) Cacheris wrote.

"Importantly, this finding hardly gives corporations a blank check (so to speak) to directly contribute unlimited amounts to federal campaigns," Cacheris wrote in his 52-page ruling. "Rather, corporations are subject to the same FECA contribution limits as individuals."

This jurisprudence most likely will end up in the Supreme Court. But for now it's the law of the land.

Note the FEC still has the ban on corporate contributions without coming through a PAC on it's literature

Prohibited Contributions and Expenditures The FECA places prohibitions on contributions and expenditures by certain individuals and organizations. The following are prohibited from making contributions or expenditures to influence federal elections: Corporations; Labor organizations; Federal government contractors; and Foreign nationals.

Furthermore, with respect to federal elections: No one may make a contribution in another person's name. No one may make a contribution in cash of more than $100.

Although corporations and labor organizations may not make contributions or expenditures in connection with federal elections, they may establish PACs. Corporate and labor PACs raise voluntary contributions from a restricted class of individuals and use those funds to support federal candidates and political committees. Click here to download the Campaign Guide for Corporations and Labor Organizations [PDF].

Apart from supporting PACs, corporations and labor organizations may conduct other activities related to federal elections, within certain guidelines. For more information, call the FEC or consult 11 CFR Part 114.

However, from the Open Secrets site, it does appear that those are individual contributors and PAC donations, respectively.

  • But even if true, this would only explain one contribution of many. So it doesn't answer this question, even if the corporation made a contribution as an individual.
    – Brythan
    Commented Jan 15, 2017 at 23:18
  • @brythan. I didn't analyze if these contributions were made by individuals, the corporation directly, or a PAC
    – user9790
    Commented Jan 15, 2017 at 23:20
  • @Brythan and I think the language changed some
    – user9790
    Commented Jan 15, 2017 at 23:22

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