The Federal Elections Commission has published funding data, revealing that the largest donors to Bernie Sanders’ election campaign PACs (Political Action Committees) are tech company employees. Leading the pack (sorry for the pun), employees of the Google parent company Alphabet Inc. donated a little over a quarter of a million dollars.

University of California came next, donating nearly $140 thousand dollars, while the other tech giants Microsoft, Apple and Amazon rounded out the top five.

Apple, Google Boost Bernie Sanders

PACs disclose donor’s employer and occupation

Under federal law, Political Action Committees must ask each donor’s occupation and employer when receiving individual contributions of more than $200. The primary intention of this law is to avoid or identify cases where companies are making donations disguised as individual contributions.

While responses from donors are not mandatory, all provided information must be disclosed.

According to the website opensecrets.org, in some cases, a cluster of contributions from the same organization may indicate a concerted effort by that organization to “bundle” contributions to the candidate. In other cases—both with private companies and with government agencies, non-profits and educational institutions—the reason for the contributions may be completely unrelated to the organization.

Such concerns don’t necessarily apply here, based on the relatively small amounts this recent data revealed.

PACs were result of Smith Connally Act

PACs began forming in 1944, with the first one being formed by the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) in order to raise funds for the re-election of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The PAC’s money came from union members’ voluntary contributions, rather than union treasuries. The PAC was put in place to avoid violating the Smith Connally Act of 1943, which forbade unions from directly contributing to federal candidates.

Although commonly called PACs, federal election law refers to these accounts as “separate segregated funds” because money contributed to a PAC is kept in a bank account separate from the general corporate or union treasury.

According to the Federal Election Campaign Act, an organization becomes a PAC on a federal level when it receives or spends more than $2,600 for the purpose of influencing a federal election. Individual state laws are in place in order to become a PAC on a state level.

There are currently 4600 registered and active PACs in the United States.

Closing out the top ten Bernie Sanders contributors were: the US Postal Service, Kaiser Permanente, US Navy, Boeing Co, and AT&T Inc.