As I wrote on Thursday, billionaire investor George Soros has single-handedly committed $25 million to Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party. Soros carries considerable influence among his peers, and his actions will likely spur other wealthy donors to follow suit. This is bad news for Trump, who has received little support from hedge fund financiers.
The Clinton campaign has thus far received more than $48 million from financial firms – compared to the measly $19,000 donated to GOP nominee Donald Trump. Hedge funds employees aren’t against Republicans. In fact, they donated $66 million to Trump’s former rivals. But when it comes to supporting an “unpredictable billionaire,” they are hesitant to open their wallets.
Soros once said it is “odious” for any one individual to influence an election through donations, but this is exactly what is happening now with hedge funds. And you can bet these giant donations will play a critical role in the upcoming election.
Hedge fund owners and employees have thrown $122.7 million at this year’s presidential candidates – more than twice what was donated in 2012. “Amid criticism that Mrs. Clinton has cultivated close ties with the financial industry, her campaign has emphasized her plan to confront Wall Street,” reports The Wall Street Journal.
“Hillary Clinton has the toughest plan to reform Wall Street, clean up the abuses…and close the carried-interest [tax] loophole that benefits hedge funds,” explains a campaign spokesperson. Most of Wall Street seems to view Hillary as the “safe” choice, and many executives have expressed concerns regarding Trump’s business record and his stance on trade and foreign policy.
Investment firm manager JB Pritzker (of Pritzker Group) explains that he has donated more to this election than to any in the past: “First, I think she [Hillary] ought to be president. Second, I want to defeat Donald Trump. I believe that he would be terrible for the country.”
Still, Trump is not without allies in the financial world. Billionaire investor Wilbur L. Ross hosted a lunch for the GOP nominee last month in which “million of dollars” were raised for the Trump campaign. Ross stands by Trump’s positions on defense spending, trade, and immigration, but notes that his rhetoric “can create wrong perceptions.”
Big money donations like we see today have become more common following the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling in 2010, which abolished limits on election spending. A big portion of this money has gone into super PACs, which have no restrictions on the amount of money they are allowed to accept.
Direct donations from hedge fund employees to presidential candidates have remained static when compared with the 2012 election, but money donated to outside groups has skyrocketed to $103.1 million this election cycle (compared to $33.5 million in 2012).
Longtime Clinton supporter Haim Saban of Saban Capital Group has donated more than $10 million to Priorities USA Action – the main super PAC supporting the Democratic nominee. James Simons, founder of Renaissance Technologies, has contributed $9.5 to pro-Clinton organizations.
As I mentioned above, much of hedge fund-related donations for GOP candidates have gone to Trump’s former rivals:
• Jeb Bush received $17 million
• Marco Rubio received $15.2 million
• Ted Cruz received $14.3 million
• Chris Christie received $9.3 million
Thomas Steyer, founder of Farallon Capital, is the single biggest donor of the current election. He gave $31 million to NextGen Climate Action, a group that strongly opposes Donald Trump.
While there are no hedge funds currently amongst Donald Trump’s top contributors, the Wall Street execs seem to be coming around. Hedge fund billionaires John Paulson and Anthony Scaramucci co-hosted a fundraiser from Trump last month. Scaramucci believes Wall Street is making a huge mistake in supporting Clinton.
“The hedge fund community has been wrong about a lot this year. You can add that to the list.”
Editor’s note: The hypocrisy of Hillary accepting Wallstreet money on one hand while saying how she’s going to soak the rich to pay for social programs. Doesn’t it make you think she might not be telling the truth?