American Politics: The Koch Brother's Integrated Donor Network Alumni' Hall of Shame
The Cast of Characters
THE LIST OF PEOPLE WHO ATTEND THE KOCH BROTHERS SUMMITS is intended to be secret, so it is hard to determine who the men are who are behind the Dark Money in politics. Fortunately for the long, hard work of journalist Jane Meyer, as well as several people who were willing to "leak" the information, she was able to identity a host of characters in her new book Dark Money.
There is another hub I am writing that discusses the book directly, and another hub titled American Politics: The Criminal (?) World of the Koch Brothers and Koch Industries where I cover the immoral, unethical, and outright criminal behavior of this second largest, privately held empire.
In Dark Money, Jane Meyer exposes as many of the men and woman who are part of the Koch Integrated Donor Network as she could find; she could not find an analogous large set of donors or organizations on the Left, by the way. Below is just a partial list and those with an * are ones covered in this hub,
- Stephen Schwarzman - Blackstone Group (private equity fund) - $12.9 billion
- Paul Elliott Singer - Elliott Management Corp (hedge fund) - $2.1 billion *
- Richard Strong
- Robert Mercer - Renaissance Technologies (hedge fund) - $23 billion *
- Steven A. Cohen - SAC Capitol Advisors (hedge fund) - $10.8 billion *
- Philip Anschutz
- Sheldon Adelson
- Oliver Grace Jr.
- Richard Farmer
- Stephen Betchel Jr,
- Thomas Steward,
- Kenneth G. Langone, Co-founder of Home Depot - $2.7 billion *
- Richard DeVos,
- James Pope (the man behind the conservative take-over of the NC gov't),
- Corbin Robertson Jr.,
- Richard Gilliam,
- Harold Hamm,
- J. Larry Nichols,
- Kevin Crutchfield
- Richard Mellon Schaife (not a direct member of the KIDN, but coordinates with them; he died in 2014)) - $1.4 billion
Like the Koch's, most of these people have a very colored history in the business world. Let's get started.
Steven A. Cohen
Steven A. Cohen (1956 - )
FORBES, AT ONE POINT, PUT COHEN'S FORTUNE AT $10.8 Billion. Much of it was derived from his enormously successful hedge fund "SAC Capital Advisors" who, in 2012, was facing criminal charges for insider trading. While Cohen wasn't found personally criminal, because the Feds couldn't prove he, the fund's manager, didn't know what his employee's were doing, the employee and the company were found guilty.
Cohen is one of the known Koch Brother's biggest donors who, along with Paul Singer and Stephen Schwarzman, met with other like-minded billionaires during the June 2010 Koch Seminar, a year after President Obama took office. The point of the "summit" was to 1) "educate" the members on how President Obama may adversely affect their fortunes (none ever were, of course, PBO was good to them), 2) strategize about what to do about it, and 3) collect donations to carry out their plans.
The Right-wing propaganda machine puts the Left-wing attempt at the same thing to shame, and Steven Cohen is one of the major sources of money to grease the machine. But, like many of his fellow billionaires, it is tainted money.
As mentioned earlier, SAC Capital Advisors, the company controlled by Cohen, and one of its employees, were found guilty in 2014; SAC was fined $1.8 billion. Oh, by the way, the employee, Mathew Martoma, was the eighth such SAC employee to be indicted and found guilty of the same charge over the life of the company ... and Cohen knew nothing about any of it ... yeah right.
When there is smoke, there is fire; that wasn't Cohen's only legal problems. Cohen's ex-wife came up to the plate as well and filed charges of insider trading as well as racketeering. It was initially dismissed in 2011, but was revived in 2013 by an appeals court. Presumably it is still under litigation.
Paul Elliott Singer
Paul Elliott Singer (1944 - )
PAUL SINGER IS ANOTHER BILLIONAIRE MANAGER OF WHAT SOME say is a ruthless hedge fund, Elliott Management Corporation. He also owned NML Capital Limited in the Cayman Islands. His specialty is "distressed debt acquisition". That means buying debt from failing entities with the view of suing them to recovering their investment plus profit.
Singer is worth around $2.1 billion and, like Steven Cohen, gave a lot of it to the Koch Brothers in the summits they sponsor and is part of the Koch Integrated Donor Network. Singer also funds the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, formerly known as the International Center for Economic Policy Studies, a conservative think tank. The Institute spawned several other think tanks, one for each of the major policy areas. It also created the Veritas Fund to pay for conservative-oriented college courses or individual professors to teach specific subjects to further the conservative cause.
While Paul Singer has not been convicted of anything yet, his moral compass seems to be seriously flawed and he has lost some suits by violating the New York "Champerty" law. These violations lead to the reason his companies are commonly known as "vulture funds", a term Singer rejects. "Champerty" is a brand new concept to me but it has been around since Medieval England times, but, in simple terms it means a violation occurs when an entity acquires a financial interest in another party for the "sole purpose" to litigate in such a way as to make a profit from the investment. In Singer's case, it is buying bad debt at a deep discount with the intent to sue to collect the principal plus interest. Each of the following are examples of this immoral, illegal, and unethical subterfuge:
-- General Motors, the U.S. Treasury, and Delphi: Paul Signer, and some co-investors bought up bankrupt Delphi (this is 2009) debt for 15 cents on the dollar in order to control the bankruptcy proceedings. Without getting into details I will go with the consensus and say that Signer used unscrupulous (but totally legal) financial machinations and litigation to force newly saved GM and the U.S. gov't to pay off the debt they bought at a substantial profit. If the U.S. and GM didn't play ball, Singer would simply liquidate Delphi and drive GM, Chrysler, Ford, AND the country into crisis once more.
-- Peru: In 1996, Elliott bought defaulted Peruvian debt for $11.4 million; it was worth $20.7 million. He then aggressively pursued recovery through New York court asking for judgement that would pay them the $20.7 million plus accumulated interest and other costs. The proceedings showed that Peru had virtually completed final negotiations with creditors in order to qualify a world bank loan when Elliott swooped in to purchase this part of debt from Peruvian banks to whom Peru was the guarantor. Elliott wouldn't play ball and stopped the train. He went to court in New York.
To Elliott's dismay, in 1998, the court ruled that Peru, and some associated banks, were the victims of Paul Singer's Champerty and that the deal was illegal, consequently Singer lost this battle. But, Paul Singer and Elliott Management weren't finished yet. They proceeded to file other suits and restraining orders with U.S. Banks, effectively tying up Peru's ability to deal on the world markets.
He then took advantage from the fact that the former president of Peru, Alberto Fujimori, was attempting to flee the country due to facing legal proceedings over human rights abuses and corruption, Singer ordered the confiscation of his jet and offered to let him leave the country in exchange for the $58 million payment they thought they were due from the Peruvian treasury, an offer which Fujimori accepted.
-- Argentina: NEWS FLASH dateline 4/13/16 - 15 years after Paul Singer and a group of other vulture investors threw Argentina's economy into a tailspin, Argentina wins a crucial U.S. court case whose effect was to force Singer to settle. In 2001, in the middle of its worst economic crises ever, Argentina defaulted on $95 billion in debt ... not good. In 2002, NML Capital bought $630 million of Argentine debt (face value) for $48 million. Singer calculates that with accrued interest, the package was worth $2.3 billion, and he wanted every dime of it.
Argentina settled with most of its other creditors for about 30 cents on the dollar and a swap for new bonds in 2001 - 2002. Paul Elliott would have none of it for his purpose for buying the debt in the first place was to force Argentina to cough up the $2.3 billion; nothing less would do. And, for that kind of profit, he could afford to wait.
For a whole host of reasons, let alone national pride in not letting this American corporation bully its way into obscene profits from Argentina's misery, they told Singer to stuff it, they weren't paying and Paul Singer & company began their decades long battle with a sovereign nation. Once again, through numerous U.S. court proceedings, they tied Argentina's international and domestic economic activities up in knots; they even seized an Argentinian navel vessel ... but had to give it back for the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea declared NML Capitals actions illegal.
In March 2013, Argentina offered up a new plan to settle NML's claim but was rejected by a U.S. Court of Appeals and, in June 2014, U.S. Supreme Court decision upheld the Appeals Court's ruling effectively allows an American company to successfully bring a sovereign nation to its economic knees. As a result of the Supreme Court's decision, Argentina was forced to default on its again in July 2014, the second time in 13 years.
February 2016 saw Singer finally settling for about 75% of what he wanted or an astounding, historic $2.4 billion. But, in typical "Vulture" fashion, Singer filed suit to block Argentina from selling bonds to pay the debt; some think in order to get even more money out of the struggling country.
In March 2016, President Obama traveled to Cuba and then Argentina. While in Argentina, he was apparently persuaded to help end this litigation nightmare for Argentina. Subsequent to his return, the Department of Justice filed an " amicus curiae" brief to the U.S. Court of Appeals of the Second District calling for "a swift resolution of this long-running litigation;" a move that, according to the New York Times, increased "the pressure on a group of holdout bondholders"—including Singer's NML Capital—"that refused to take part in two debt restructurings."
Today, April 14, 2016, the U.S. Court of Appeals upheld its original decision allowing Argentina to sell its bonds to finally pay off its debt, something they have been trying to do for 16 years. Poor Paul Singer and NML Capital were forced to accept their $2.4 billion settlement.
There are many more examples of this despicable behavior, but I will move on to the next money man behind the Koch Integrated Donor Network.
Robert "Math Whiz" Mercer
Robert Mercer (1946 - )
ROBERT MERCER IS A "MATH WHIZ" WHO IS WORTH AROUND $23 BILLION. He began with IBM and was hired by, and now runs, Renaissance Technologies, a hedge fund which specialized in ... you guessed it ... math based stock trading - high frequency trading which has been frequently criticized for destabilizing the stock market. But like Paul Singer's penchant for driving countries into recessions via buying distressed debt, Mercer doesn't mind, and in fact challenges the idea that through the questionable trading methodologies his company uses. other people's fortunes, large and small, are unjustly diminished. Nor will he accept that his trading system introduces artificial, unexpected shocks into market which, in turn, may temporarily destabilize the economy.
Although looked at with a jaundiced eye, what he does is legal under today's stock trading rules. Nevertheless, the stock exchanges have implemented rules, like stopping trading if the market falls or rises to quickly, to mitigate the damage computerized trading may do. What isn't legal, at least according to the IRS, is manipulating trading such that a lower tax rate can be claimed, just for Renaissance Technologies' employees. The IRS has been conducting a six-year investigation into certain of Mercer's trading practices in order to recover $6 BILLION in additional taxes owed. That astounding number is big enough to make a small dent in the national deficit and would even register as a 1.0 earthquake in reducing the national debt.
Oh, by the way, Robert Mercer, through his family's foundation is on this list because of the mind-boggling amount of money they spend to influence national and local politics. I count no less than ten tax deductible, non-profit PACs which he provides substantial sums to whose purposes are to 1) Defeat climate change legislation, 2) Elect Ted Cruz, and 3) Advocate for the return of the Gold Standard among their many causes.
Kenneth G. Lagone
Kenneth G. Langone (1935 - )
"IF IT WASN'T FOR US FAT CATS AND THE ENDOWMENTS WE FUND, every university in the country would be f**ked", so says Ken Langone. Langone co-founded both Home Depot, where he amassed much of his fortune, and ChoicePoint, another successful venture; he is currently an investment banker. He also attempted to buy the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in 2005; to which there is more to the story.
Unlike many of his fellow billionaires, Langone had a philanthropic streak that benefited real, non-political charities. Charities such Langone has contributed towards charities which fund medical research and treatment and provide education and services to the disadvantaged. These charities have included the Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation, the Children's Oncology Society(Ronald McDonald House), Tomorrow's Hope Foundation, the Promise Academy (a New York charter school), Harlem Children's Zone, and the Robin Hood Foundation. Unlike the others, the Robin Hood Foundation does have a libertarian motive behind it, that being ... pushing a totally free-market agenda behind a very worthy charity/educational organization.
But, that aside all of that, it does appear Langone used his money, power, and position to illegally compensate someone who had regulatory authority over him. So, back to the NYSE. Ken Langone, as I suppose many rich men and women do, make a career of being on the boards of many powerful corporations and, in Langone's case, on the board of the non-profit NYSE. If fact, he was chairman of its compensation committee.
In early 2003, Dick Grasso, Chairman and CEO of the NYSE, who is credited with bringing this institution back to health after the terrorist attack on Sept 11, 2001, received a deferred compensation pay package of $140 million; what most outside observers thought was an excessive amount f money. What made it all the more suspect is that the members of the compensation committee who approved it all are senior executives of the very NYSE-listed companies that Grasso regulates, each one hand-picked by Grasso!!
And guess who the NY State's Attorney General was? Mr. Elliott Spitzer! Once the story broke in August 2003, Spitzer would soon pick up the ball and ran with it.
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