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Corporate Campaigning: Where Do Politicians Get Their Money?

A statistical look at big spending and the heavy hitting industries, clients and lobbyists that hope to influence the political landscape.

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Big Dollars on the Campaign Trail

If you were a Democrat running for office in the 2010 election cycle, you had to have been a fan of lawyers, health professionals and real estate companies. That's because these groups probably gave you healthy campaign contributions.

On the other side, if you were a Republican seeking office, you, too, must have been fond of lawyers, health professionals and real estate agents: They probably threw some dollars your way, too.

U.S. voters have always been leery of the influence that corporations and entire industries gain when they throw big dollars at their favorite politicians. Does this money impact the way legislators vote if they do get into office? There's a lot of debate about this, with most politicians claiming that they are not influenced by campaign contributions.

Still, it's hard not to believe that politicians don't remember that the National Association of Realtors passed out more than $35 million to politicians in the most recent election cycle. Might all those dollars have some influence?

Regardless, corporate campaign contributions once again played a huge role in financing political campaigns across the country in the 2010 election cycle.

AT&T alone gave more than $44 million to candidates during the cycle. The Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees donated more than $41 million to politicians. The already mentioned Realtors association, of course, gave more than $35 million, while Goldman Sachs came up with $31 million. The American Association of Justice rounded out the top five campaign spenders by adding an additional $31 million to help fill the campaign chests of candidates.

Perhaps it's a reflection of who's currently in charge, but Democrats seemed to attract bigger dollar amounts in the 2010 election cycle. Lawyers and law firms, for example, donated more than $19 million to Democratic candidates. Health professionals donated another $9.4 million, while the securities and investment industries came up with $8.1 million.

The real estate industry donated $7.2 million to Democratic candidates, while lobbyists representing the nation's retired added $6.2 million.

On the Republican side, health professionals led the way by donating $5 million to the party's candidates. Lobbyists for the country's retired people donated about $5 million, too, while the insurance industry came up with about $4 million to help fund the campaigns of Republican candidates.

The real estate industry and lawyers and law firms each donated about $3.9 million to Republican candidates.