Saturday, 6 February 2016
Last updated 10 hours ago
Feb 2 2012 | 11:02am ET
Four years ago, hedge fund managers helped finance President Barack Obama's victorious run for the White House. Now, they're lining up to ensure he doesn't make another.
The so-called "Super PACs," political action committees permitted by a 2010 Supreme Court decision allowing unlimited corporate and other contributions, raised more than $50 million last year. The overwhelming majority of that money went to PACs supporting Republican presidential candidates, none more so than Mitt Romney, whose Super PAC, Restore Our Future, took in $30 million last year.
The list of big donors to the Romney PAC reads like a who's who of the hedge fund industry. Julian Robertson, Elliott Associates' Paul Singer, Paulson & Co.'s John Paulson, Moore Capital Management's Louis Bacon, Tudor Investment Corp.'s Paul Tudor Jones and Citadel Investment Group founder Kenneth Griffin are all on it, and each gave at least $100,000.
Some gave much more: Robertson, Singer, Paulson and Renaissance Technologies' Robert Mercer gave the Romney PAC $1 million each. So did retired Bain Capital partner Edward Conrad, as well as Bain's Paul Edgerly and his wife, Sandra.
Romney co-founded Bain. People with ties to the private equity fund have given at least $3 million to Restore Our Future, including $250,000 each from Brookside Capital's Domenic Ferrante, Steven Barnes and his wife, John Connaughton and Steven Zide.
Other private equity luminaries have been just as—or more—generous. MBF Healthcare Partners' Miguel Fernandez has given $500,000, as has Avista Capital's Steven Webster. W/F Investment Corp. gave $275,000, while founder William Fleishman threw in another $100,000. Fireman Capital Partners' namesake Paul Fireman gave $250,000. TPG Capital's Dick Boyce donated $200,000, and T.A. Associates' Kevin Landry and Andy McLane combined for $170,000.
Hedge funders have also dug deep. Newly-retired Chris Shumway gave $750,000, Bacon $500,000, Jones $200,000 and Griffin $100,000. Blue Ridge Capital's John Griffin gave $125,000 and the firm another $100,000. Tudor's Mark Dalton gave $100,000, as did Maverick Capital's Lee Ainslie. Sun Capital Advisors' Rodger Krouse and Marc Leder gave a total of $250,000.
Other GOP hopefuls took advantage of Super PACs, but none so much as Romney, and none with nearly as much support from Wall Street and the alternative investments community. The only significant alternatives donor to another Republican presidential candidate was Peter Thiel, the PayPal founder and Clarium Capital Management chief, who gave $900,000 to a Super PAC backing Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas).
Obama, who enjoyed so much hedge fund support in 2004, counted no alts. titans among his Super PAC's biggest donors. Indeed, his Super PAC garnered only $4.4 million last year. On the bright side for the president, he has still raised much more than Romney and his other GOP rivals, and hasn't had to spend any of it on a bruising primary campaign. Obama collected $128 million in regular donations last year, compared to $57 million for Romney.