For a casino mogul worth an estimated $25 billion, $34.2 million may sound like chump change. Yet that's how much money Sheldon Adelson has donated so far to aid Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and organizations supporting Romney this election, making him the donor of donors for the GOP.
Other top donors giving millions of dollars to aid Romney's campaign include a trio of Texas money moguls and the head of a south Florida-based energy conglomerate. Those donors and others are funding a presidential election on track to cost nearly $2 billion, with money going toward individual Democratic and Republican campaigns as well as independent, "super" political committees working on the campaigns' behalf.
Political donations can open doors that are closed to most people. Big-dollar donors are often invited to state dinners at the White House and other events with the president. They also may be asked to weigh in on public policy, especially if it affects their own financial interests. And the ranks of ambassadors, advisory panels and other government jobs traditionally are filled with those who have been unusually generous during the campaign.
Based on an examination of more than 2.3 million campaign contributions _ the methodology is below _ The Associated Press has ranked the top five financial supporters bankrolling the Republican presidential run: