PunditFact checks claim on campaign donations

St. Petersburg, Florida - This month, the Supreme Court made a ruling on campaign contributions, saying a single donor can give to as many candidates, party funds and political action committees as he or she wishes.That decision unleashed a fire storm of predictions on how it would affect elections.

Heather McGhee, the president of Demos, a group that believes too much political and economic power lies in the hands of too few people, appeared on MSNBC talking about how the justices ruling doesn't help.

Here's what she said:

"We have a large donor dominated system. Less than 1 percent of 1 percent of the American population has given an amount over $200."

That number seemed strange to PunditFact.

"Think about how small that is. The country is 320 or so million people, so 1% would be 3.2 million, so she's saying less than 1% of that. She's saying 32,000 people. That's the size of Juneau, Alaska," says Aaron Sharockman with PunditFact.

Fact-checkers went to The Center for Responsive Politics, which monitors campaign donations to see how many people contribute to campaigns. They found she's overstating by a factor of 10 or even 40, depending on what election.

"Currently in the 2013-2014 cycle -- which is halfway over and a lot of the money has yet to be raised -- it's .1% of the American population that has given $200 or more to a candidate," says Sharockman.

Fact-checkers also went back to 2012, when .4% of the population, around 1.2 million, donated $200 or more to a federal party or campaign.

While her overall point is generally accurate, her numbers are off, so PunditFact rates this claim: MOSTLY FALSE.

PunditFact reached out to Demos and a spokesman responded saying McGhee misspoke.


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