Ritchie Capital Founder Plans Third Political Party

Mar 23 2010 | 3:26am ET

A Chicago hedge fund manager enmeshed in the Thomas Petters Ponzi scheme case is planning a new political party in Illinois to challenge both the Democrats and Republicans.

Ritchie Capital Management founder Thane Ritchie will announce today an ad-hoc committee to consider the launch of a new, as-yet unnamed party.

“Ordinary, practical Americans deserve another option, a different path to address ‘real solutions to the real issues’ they face at their kitchen tables each night,” Ritchie said. Ritchie will hold a press conference in Elmhurst, Ill., to officially announce the officers and other members of the committee. But yesterday’s press release offered a peek.

Among the officers is Dean Barkley, the founder of Minnesota’s Independence Party. Barkley briefly served in the U.S. Senate, appointed by former professional wrestler and Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura, whose election he helped engineer in 1998. Barkley was also a third-party candidate for the Senate seat won by Democrat Al Franken from Republican Norm Coleman in 2008, taking more than 15% of the vote.

It also features former East St. Louis Mayor Carl Officer, a former Democrat, and Thomas Cronin, a Republican committeeman from River Forest. And to further the new committee’s multi-partisan credentials, Barkley’s co-chairman is Stephen Denari, who has run for Congress as a Democrat, a Republican and as a member of the Reform Party founded by two-time presidential candidate Ross Perot—a fact he is extremely proud of.

“As perhaps the only tri-partisan candidate in Illinois history, Thane felt I was uniquely qualified for this task,” he said.

Ritchie’s hedge fund has been sued by Barclays Bank, which accuses Ritchie Capital of hiding more than $150 million in investments it made it Petters’ collapsed business empire.

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