Deep pocketed donors have long played a role in national politics, but perhaps no group has become more influential in this election cycle than the financial titans known as asset managers.
In this series, Money Managers and their Donation Dollars, we take a close look at hedge fund managers, private equity executives and their less glamorous but equally powerful Wall Street counterparts to discover who is supporting Romney and who is backing Obama—why, and for how much.
Marc Lasry, Avenue Capital
Avenue Capital's Marc Lasry has spent much of the last 20 years trying to get and keep Bill and Hillary Clinton in office. And now, the distressed debt specialist who formerly employed the Clintons' daughter, Chelsea, has thrown his fundraising weight behind President Barack Obama.
The billionaire has been a generous donor to Democrats; he and his wife have given nearly $850,000 since 1990 to the party and its candidates and committees. This year, he's a bundler, delivering as much as $500,000 into the party's coffers.
This week, he opened his Upper East Side home to fellow Obama backers in the role, helping the president raise about $2 million—more than half of Obama's total haul during his visit to New York on Monday—at a $40,000-a-head dinner. The 50-strong contingent at Lasry's home heard former President Bill Clinton warn that a victory by Obama's November opponent, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, would be "calamitous for our country and the world."
The event was the second Obama fundraiser hosted of co-hosted by Lasry this year, following a $38,500-a-plate dinner in March.
Lasry isn't only backing Obama, however. Last year, he donated $30,8000 to the Democratic Nation Committee, $5,000 to Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and $5,000 to former Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine, who is running for a Senate seat. Lasry's wife, Cathy, has given $5,000 each to Gillibrand and Christie Vilsack, the wife of former Iowa Gov. and current U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, who is seeking a House seat in Iowa.
Lasry has never made any bones about his political leanings. Asked recently on CNBC's Squawk Box if his partisanship could hurt his business, he said, "I actually don't think investors look at whether you're a Democrat or a Republican. I think they're really focused on whether you're making them money."
Money Managers And Their Donation Dollars