Most people think that money plays too big a role in American politics. Citadel Investment Group's Kenneth Griffin isn't one of them.
Griffin, who is backing former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney for president this year, told the Chicago Tribune this weekend that the "ultra-wealthy" like himself actually have "insufficient influence" in politics.
"I think they actually have an insufficient influence," Griffin said. "Those who have enjoyed the benefits of our system more than ever now owe a duty to protect the system that has created the greatest nation on this planet. And so I hope that other individuals who have really enjoyed growing up in a country that believes in life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness – and economic freedom is part of the pursuit of happiness – (I hope they realize) they have a duty now to step up and protect that. Not for themselves, but for their kids and for their grandchildren and for the person down the street that they don't even know."
"At this moment in time, these values are under attack. This belief that a larger government is what creates prosperity, that a larger government is what creates good (is wrong). We've seen that experiment. The Soviet Union collapsed. China has run away from its state-controlled system over the last 20 years and has pulled more people up from poverty by doing so than we've ever seen in the history of humanity. Why the U.S. is drifting toward a direction that has been the failed experiment of the last century, I don't understand. I don't understand."
Griffin told the newspaper that he spends "way too much of my time thinking about politics these days because government is way too involved in financial markets these days." But he'd like to become more involved himself, in a sense, calling for an end to the $2,500 limit on individual donations to political campaigns.
More locally, Griffin said he has lobbied hard to keep a casino out of downtown Chicago, having spoken with both former Chicago Mayor Richard Daley and current Mayor Rahm Emmanuel, and written a letter to Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn.
"There is no great city in America that has a casino (downtown)," he said. "And there's a reason for it. Casinos do not represent the values of a great city."