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Opinion

Ladies, if you want political change, you've got to start donating

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Beltway Confidential,Opinion,Politico,Campaign Finance,Ashe Schow,Gender Issues,Sandra Fluke

Here’s a gap you may not see feminists complain about — the donation gap.

The top female donors have contributed just one-sixth the amount the top male donors have given so far this election cycle, according to Politico.

“The top 20 male donors gave a combined $62.6 million, so far this cycle,” wrote Politico’s Anna Palmer and Tarini Parti. “That’s nearly six times the $11.2 million that top female donors contributed over the same time period, according to a Center for Responsive Politics review of contributions made through July 10 to federal candidates and committees that disclose their donors.”

The top male donor? It's not George Soros, it's now Tom Steyer, who has given $18,290,200 to various federal campaigns and committees in 2014. That's 35 percent of the total from the top 10 male donors this cycle.

The top female donor is Virginia James, a conservative who co-founded the Club for Growth. James has so far donated $1,831,000 - or 23 percent of the total from the top 10 female donors - this election cycle.

Now, the numbers above are from reported donations, so we don’t know how much so-called dark money women are donating as compared to men.

But the message is clear: Women, to have more influence, need to donate more.

Politico notes, the reason for the disparity is that women need a “personal touch” when wooing them for donations.

“They want more of a relationship with the candidate and a better understanding of where their donations are going,” Politico wrote.

That’s smart, but I’m frankly a little skeptical to believe that male donors don’t care as much about how their money is spent.

“Many women are motivated by solicitations about ‘women's issues' like abortion or breast cancer research, but often women are turned off by not hearing about other issues, like the economy or health care,” Politico wrote. “Women expect to attend the same events as their male counterparts, not teas or ‘women's events.'”

Could campaign finance reform help close this gap? I have my doubts, but birth-control advocate Sandra Fluke seems to think such legislation could solve a lot of problems in politics - including the lack of donations to women candidates.

But Fluke hasn't said why she wants campaign finance reform or how it would specifically help women. Her campaign website says only that she wants to “reduce the influence of big money in politics” and that she would limit how much legislators can fundraise while the legislature is in session.

But who knows? Maybe campaign finance reform will encourage more women to donate, more women to be donated to and end all of the cronyism in politics.

And maybe penguins will fly.

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