Hedge Funds Help Fund Obama Inauguration

Jan 20 2009 | 2:11am ET

Today’s inauguration of Barack Obama as the 44th president of the United States will be the most expensive in history. And despite their troubles, hedge fund managers and employees are helping to foot the bill.

The bill for Obama’s swearing-in may hit $150 million—more than $100 million of which is for security costs. And among those giving the maximum $50,000 per individual are Soros Fund Management’s George Soros and D.E. Shaw Group’s David Shaw, leading a large number of hedge fund industry professionals to pay for the inauguration.

The Presidential Inauguration Committee has raised more than $27 million, of which $7.1 million came from those involved in finance, according to the Centre for Responsive Politics. The Soros family alone gave $200,000. Other hedgies (or former hedgies) giving the max include Grosvenor Capital Management’s Stephen Malkin and Michael Sacks (and Sacks’ wife, Cari), Paloma Partners CEO Donald Sussman and Oaktree Capital Management Chairman Howard Marks.

Also giving $50,000 was CNBC personality Ron Insana, who recently shuttered his hedge fund, Insana Capital Partners, and Howard Kagan, late of activist shop Harbinger Capital Partners. Howard Gottlieb, a retired partner at Glenwood Financial Group, now owned by Man Group, gave $50,000, as did his wife, Anne. Marsha Laufer, the wife of Renaissance Technologies chief scientist Henry Laufer, also gave as much as she could, along with Naomi Aberly, the wife of HBK Capital Management’s Lawrence Lebowitz. Chess Capital Partners founder Shonda Warner, Fletcher Asset Management deputy CEO Denis Kiely, GEM Investors senior managing partner Barry Malkin, McGarr Capital’s Cappy McGarr, Seminole Capital Partners founder Michael Messner, Taconic Capital Advisors founder Frank Brosens, and Willow Creek Capital Management founder Aaron Braun each gave the maximum.

While Obama’s committee chose not to accept donations from corporations, lobbyists, unions or political action committees, it certainly did take them from Wall Street. The CRP said that 118 people with Wall Street ties gave a total of $3.6 million to fund the festivities, followed by lawyers ($2.5 million) and people with ties to the entertainment business ($1.7 million).

Big donors and bundlers—those who collected big money from multiple donors—are reportedly able to get special access and tickets to the events including the inaugural parade and the inauguration itself on the west front of the U.S. Capitol. With as many as two million people expected to crowd the District of Columbia today for the inauguration, tickets to any of the events have become a very hot commodity.


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