Earlier this month the 2016 donation numbers for B.C.'s political parties were filed with Elections B.C. and, not unexpectedly, it was another bumper crop for the B.C. Liberals.
The party raised $13.1 million, more than any other provincial party in Canada and $4.8 million more than the federal NDP and Green Party combined.
B.C. Liberal Leader Christy Clark waves to the crowd before making a speech at the B.C Liberal election party in Vancouver, British Columbia, May 10, 2017. (Photo: Ben Nelms/Reuters)
The B.C. NDP raised $6.2 million -- $791,469 more than its federal counterpart -- and the B.C. Green party came in at $754,988.
Drill down into those numbers and there's another story that goes far beyond the obscene sums of money floating about B.C. politics.
First, a number from Alberta for context.
From 2005 to 2016, the Progressive Conservative party -- in power from 2005 to 2015 -- raised $32.7 million, all in.
Meanwhile in the same period, the Liberal party reported 86,718 donations for $250 or more totalling $118.3 million and the NDP $46.9 million (335,306 donations).
More than 3,000 unique corporate donors have given in excess of $72 million.
Riches beyond the wildest dreams of most parties in Canada -- but in the case of the Liberal Party, riches that come from a small number of donors.
Combing through more than $106 million in donations (2005 to 2015), assign each to its unique donor and it quickly becomes apparent that the party's financial support is deep, but not wide.
Imagine the party's haul like a giant jigsaw puzzle that promises tens of thousands of pieces until you open the box and find only a few hundred are required to complete the picture.
First, sort the pieces.
On the personal donation side, there's the dreaded middle initial. Search John Doe in Elections B.C.'s database and donations as John R. Doe won't appear. Search John R. Doe and those of John R Doe (with no period after the initial) won't show up.
In the case of one donor it means potentially missing $53,460 in donations on top of his $13,400 as John Doe.
(Photo: Bloomberg via Getty Images)
Check initials, typos and various forms of a name and more than one out of every four dollars the Liberal party has raised in personal donations ($29 million) comes from just 100 individuals.
After separating out the personal donations, more than 3,000 unique corporate donors have given in excess of $72 million.
What's a unique donor? The ultimate entity that holds the wallet.
Safe bet that Bell Canada and Bell Mobility are related, not so with Centreville Construction, Crestmark Development and Concord Pacific, and even less so with CNR (ECHO) Resources, Ensign Opsco Energy Industries and Mount Polley Mining.
There are the alphabet donors to sort and assign, such as: S&E Services LLP (Stikeman & Elliott), ES (BC) LP (Just Energy) and J&J Shared Services (Johnson & Johnson).
Breweries are imaginative.
Sleeman Breweries has donated $17,946, Molson ($129,257) and Labatt ($163,366). Turning Point Brewery, owned by Labatt, has donated $336 and Brewers' Distributor (owned by Molson and Labatt) has given $24,135.
Ontario's Beer Store -- owned by Sleeman, Molson and Labatt -- gave $117,678.
Knock off the companies that gave less than $25,000 and 481 donors contributed $59 million (82 per cent of the $72 million tally), 285 gave $50,000 or more for $52.4 million (73 per cent), and 171 donors -- the capacity of a Boeing 737 -- contributed $45 million (62 per cent).
The 171 used more than 700 companies to make donations.
One out of every five corporate dollars the party raises comes from just 30 unique donors ($24.2 million).
The 10 most generous ($13.4 million) have contributed more than all the unions in the world did to the NDP ($13.2 million).
Fifty donors contributed more than the Alberta Progressive Conservatives raised altogether.
Fifty donors contributed more than the Alberta Progressive Conservatives raised altogether.
So who makes up the exclusive Top 50 club? Nineteen are property developers ($13.7 million), three are in mining ($4.2 million), six are in the forestry industry ($3.5 million), three in oil and gas ($2.4 million) and four are in construction ($1.5 million).
What was it again that Martyn Brown, former premier Gordon Campbell's chief of staff, was saying to Vaughn Palmer last year?
Oh, right: "The housing industry, construction industry, real estate, the liquor industry, energy industry, certainly the mining industry, big forest industry -- all gave exceptional amounts of money, and they got exceptional attention."
The exceptional attention is a story for another day.
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> Total contributions (2012-ongoing): $1,927,900 > Donations to Democratic Party: 38% > Donations to Republican Party: 62% > Spending on lobbying (2012-ongoing): $3,979,250 > Industry: Aerospace/Defense Products and Services Lockheed Martin has been one of the largest political contributors of the past 20 years, and it has donated more than $1 million in each election cycle dating back to 1996. In this current cycle, 83% of funds contributed by the company have come from the Lockheed Martin Employees Political Action Committee (LMEPAC), which has contributed $570,000 to Democratic Party candidates and $881,000 to Republican Party candidates. In fiscal 2011, the defense company received contracts worth over $17 billion, more than any other company in the U.S. This was more than the government contracts received by the next two companies, Boeing and Northrop Grumman, combined.
> Total contributions (2012-ongoing): $2,125,513 > Donations to Democratic Party: 26% > Donations to Republican Party: 74% > Spending on lobbying (2012-ongoing): $870,000 > Industry: International, Money Center Bank Since 2004, Bank of America's political contributions have exceeded $2 million in each election cycle. Following the bank's acquisition of financial institutions, including FleetBoston, MBNA, Countrywide Financial, and Merrill Lynch, the number of full-time employees rose to some 279,000. Donations from company's employees now make up over two-thirds of the bank's total contributions. In 2008 and 2009, the U.S. Department of the Treasury gave Bank of America $45 billion in TARP bailout funds. In March 2012, the company agreed to pay $11.8 billion in fines for abuses in home foreclosure proceedings.
> Total contributions (2012-ongoing): $2,222,605 > Donations to Democratic Party: 37% > Donations to Republican Party: 63% > Spending on lobbying (2012-ongoing): $1,750,000 > Industry: Aerospace/Defense Products and Services In this election cycle, Honeywell has donated nearly $2 million in contributions directly to political candidates and parties, most of which was given through the Honeywell International Political Action Committee (HIPAC), which allows employees to donate to candidates vetted by the company. In the current election cycle, no contribution to HIPAC has exceeded $5,000 and just seven contributions were for $2,500 or more. According to the diversified manufacturing company's corporate governance guidelines, PAC donations are intended to be the primary way in which the company is politically active. The company, however, is also very active in lobbying, having spent upwards of $6 million annually from 2009 to 2011. Honeywell received $725 million worth of government-contracts in fiscal year 2011.
> Total contributions (2012-ongoing): $2,250,389 > Donations to Democratic Party: 0% > Donations to Republican Party: 100% > Spending on lobbying (2012-ongoing): $100,000 > Industry: Specialty Chemicals Chemical company Huntsman Corporation donated $2.25 million to political campaigns in the present election cycle. Almost all of this came from the company's founder and chairman, Jon Huntsman Sr., whose donations made him one of the nation's largest individual contributors. In the span of four months, from October 2011 through January 2012, Huntsman donated $2.2 million over 10 payments to Our Destiny PAC, a group that supported the presidential candidacy of his son, Jon Huntsman Jr. Roughly 99% of the donations was to Our Destiny, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, while direct contributions to candidates and parties accounted for the remaining 1%, or just $28,350.
> Total contributions (2012-ongoing): $2,253,565 > Donations to Democratic Party: 68% > Donations to Republican Party: 32% > Spending on lobbying (2012-ongoing): $1,790,000 > Industry: Software Microsoft has a long history of political contributions, donating a total of $24 million since 1988. Only once over the last seven election cycles has the software company not been one of the ten largest political donors among public companies. Though the company's chairman, Bill Gates, is one of the world's wealthiest individuals, he has exclusively contributed smaller, incremental donations directly to party groups and candidates, rather than providing PACs with large contributions. In addition to Gates, CEO Steve Ballmer has made more than 20 political contributions ranging from $1,000 to $15,000. Donations from these and other employees accounted for 67% of the money raised in the present election cycle.
> Total contributions (2012-ongoing): $2,370,150 > Donations to Democratic Party: 99% %3> Total contributions (2012-ongoing): > Spending on lobbying (2012-ongoing): N/A > Industry: Movie Production Though Dreamworks Animation is a relatively small business, with just about 2,100 full-time employees and a $1.6 billion market capitalization, the company is an extremely large contributor to the Democratic Party and related organizations. Most of the movie production company's contributions -- $2,125,000, or 90% of donations -- support outside spending groups, including PACs, instead of individual campaigns. And almost all of this support is from CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg. He became one of the largest donors in the country after giving $2 million to Priorities USA Action, an organization committed to the reelection of President Obama.
> Total contributions (2012-ongoing): $2,504,219 > Donations to Democratic Party: 35% > Donations to Republican Party: 65% > Spending on lobbying (2012-ongoing): $7,050,000 > Industry: Telecom Services Since SBC Communications bought AT&T Corp. in 2005, the newly formed AT&T, Inc. has been one of the largest political donors in the country, with more than $18 million in contributions since the acquisition. The telecom was the largest political contributor among all public companies in 2006 and in 2010. For 2012, the board of directors approved a maximum amount of $6.5 million in total contributions to political candidates, parties, PACs and other groups. AT&T also lobbies extensively, having spent more than $7 million on lobbying so far in 2012 -- more than any publicly traded company.
> Total contributions (2012-ongoing): $2,774,151 > Donations to Democratic Party: 64% > Donations to Republican Party: 36% > Spending on lobbying (2012-ongoing): $4,600,000 > Industry: Cable TV Three times in the past twelve years cable company Comcast has been one of the largest corporate political donors in the U.S. Since 2008, election cycle contributions by the company and its employees have totaled more than $9 million. In the present cycle, contributions from Comcast have come in almost equal measure from private individuals within the company and from the organization's own PAC, called the Comcast Corporation Political Action Committee. Of particular note, Executive Vice President David Cohen was the largest direct donor at the company, contributing $194,650.
> Total contributions (2012-ongoing): $4,769,994 > Donations to Democratic Party: 29% > Donations to Republican Party: 71% > Spending on lobbying (2012-ongoing): $1,380,000 > Industry: Diversified Investments Over the past decade many of the largest corporate donors have been financial firms. And no financial company has contributed as much money or as consistently as Goldman Sachs, which has given $39 million since 1989. Since 2000, Goldman has been one of the ten largest political donors among publicly traded companies in every election cycle, a distinction unique to the company. Twice, in 2004 and 2008, the company contributed more to political campaigns than any other business in the U.S. In the 2008 election cycle, Goldman spent slightly more than $7 million, the most it has ever contributed.
> Total contributions (2012-ongoing): $11,738,600 > Donations to Democratic Party: 0% > Donations to Republican Party: 100% > Spending on lobbying (2012-ongoing): $30,000 > Industry: Resorts and Casinos So far in this election cycle, political contributions from casino and resort operator Las Vegas Sands have exceeded donations from any publicly traded company, including those in the defense, financial, and telecom industries, which usually make up the nation's largest corporate political contributors. The majority of company's contributions, $10 million, came from Sands' CEO Sheldon Adelson. In addition, Adelson and his wife Miriam made individual contributions totaling $15 million through the Adelson Drug Clinic, a methadone clinic managed by Miriam Adelson. Most of this money has gone to outsider groups, rather than directly to candidates or parties, with the Gingrich-backing Winning Our Future PAC receiving donations of $5 million and $2.5 million.