Seth Klarman is the CEO of the Baupost Group, a Boston-based hedge fund with $30 billion in assets. According to Forbes, his net worth is $1.5 billion.
Klarman spent millions during the presidency of Barack Obama to help elect Republicans; according to the Center for Responsive Politics, Klarman gave $3.8 million to American Unity, a conservative PAC backing Republicans who supported gay marriage, between 2012 and 2016. He has also given $500,000 to the Conservative Solutions PAC supporting Marco Rubio’s presidential campaign, $400,000 to Karl Rove’s American Crossroads in 2014, $195,000 to the National Republican Congressional Committee in the 2016 cycle, $100,000 to Chris Christie’s 2016 super PAC, and $25,000 to the Jeb Bush-supporting Right to Rise PAC.
After spending all of this money to help elect Republicans to the federal government, the Boston Globe reports that Klarman isn’t happy with what they did with the place:
But the rise of Donald Trump shocked and dismayed Klarman, as did the timid response from the Republican-controlled House and Senate, which have acquiesced rather than challenge the president’s erratic and divisive ways.
“The Republicans in Congress have failed to hold the president accountable and have abandoned their historic beliefs and values,” Klarman said in a prepared statement to the Globe, opening up for the first time about the reasons behind his change in political giving.
“I received a tax cut I neither need nor want,” Klarman said. So now, he’s donating that tax cut to Democrats:
He started his larger shift in giving early in 2017, giving to support Democrat Jon Ossoff, who ran unsuccessfully in a June special election to fill a vacant House seat in Georgia. He also backed Doug Jones, the Democrat who won a special Senate election in Alabama after his Republican opponent was accused of assault by multiple women.
He also sent about $34,000 to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which is aimed at electing a majority of Democrats to the House of Representatives. For context, in 2016, Klarman gave nearly $200,000 to the Republican National Campaign Committee, which is geared toward electing Republicans, and none to the comparable Democratic committees.
His philosophy, as gleaned from his recent letters to investors, is more focused on finding ways to check Trump than a wholesale embrace of the Democratic Party.
Klarman, to reiterate, gave $92,300 to the NRCC in March 2016. He didn’t stop giving money to Republicans until June 2016.
I guess it’s cool that he finally came around to the fact that he was bankrolling a party careening towards the far right, but that has been happening for several years, even during the Democratic administration Klarman was so passionate about trying to beat. What did he think would happen if he gave seven figures to help elect right-wing Republicans over the course of several years? That they wouldn’t do right-wing shit once they gained power?
Another fun fact about Klarman: his firm owns over $900 million in Puerto Rico’s debt, and was the subject of a January protest at Harvard urging the university to divest from the group unless the group agreed to cancel the debt.
Klarman, however, has so far refused to do so. “While the impulse of the advocacy groups to demand the debt be expunged may be well intentioned, it is impractical for several reasons,” Klarman wrote in an email to investors last year. “In the case of Puerto Rico, expunging the debt would almost certainly eliminate any ability the Commonwealth would have to borrow money in the future at reasonable rates, which will be critical to the island’s rebuilding efforts.”
Let the Klarman 2020 speculation begin now. (Don’t, actually. Don’t let it begin.)