Romney PAC Attracts New Jewish Donors

Hedge Fund Managers and Developers Top List of Supporters

Deep Pockets: Some top Jewish donors to Mitt Romney’s super PAC have deep roots in the GOP. But many appear to be comparative newcomers to Republican politics.
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Deep Pockets: Some top Jewish donors to Mitt Romney’s super PAC have deep roots in the GOP. But many appear to be comparative newcomers to Republican politics.

By Josh Nathan-Kazis

Published March 12, 2012, issue of March 16, 2012.
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Among the donors are two RJC board members: hedge fund magnate Paul Singer, a Republican kingmaker, and real estate developer David Flaum, the RJC’s national chairman, who gave $100,000. Singer was among the super PAC’s largest donors, giving $1 million in mid-October 2011. That gift came two weeks after Singer’s early choice, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, announced that he would not seek the Republican nomination for president.

John Paulson
John Paulson

Others among the major Jewish super PAC donors are deeply entrenched in Republican Jewish politics. Bruce Kovner of the hedge fund Caxton Associates, who gave $500,000, is a former chairman of the conservative American Enterprise Institute and a onetime backer of the now-defunct neoconservative-oriented paper The New York Sun. A 2005 New York magazine profile dubbed Kovner a “neoconservative godfather.”

But some of the Jewish givers to the Romney super PAC have a history of giving to Democratic candidates and Democratic Party groups. Steven Roth, chairman of the real estate investment firm Vornado Realty Trust, gave $100,000 to the Romney super PAC. But he and his wife were among the top donors in the country to Democratic candidates and party groups in the 2006 election cycle, according to [CRP. Roth raised between $50,000 and $100,000 for John McCain in 2008, though he and his wife were also top individual donors rated “solidly Democratic” by CRP.

Paul Fireman of the private equity firm Fireman Capital Partners, former chairman of the shoe company Reebok, gave $250,000 to Restore Our Future. He made individual donations of a few thousand dollars to Obama’s campaign in 2008 and made donations of $30,000 and $22,000 to Democratic Party groups in 2008 and 2009, respectively. But Fireman also gave to a pro-Romney PAC in 2007.

David Tepper
David Tepper

David Tepper of the hedge fund Appaloosa Management, who gave the Romney super PAC $375,000, also appears to have little history as a Republican donor. Though he gave to Rudolph Giuliani’s 2008 presidential campaign, Tepper also made a $23,000 donation to a Democratic Party-related organization that year. He was reportedly among the donors urging Christie to enter the Republican race.

Hedge fund manager John Paulson, known for his success during the 2007 subprime mortgage crisis, was a $1 million donor to the super PAC. Paulson, a member of the board of New York’s 92nd Street Y, has made donations to both political parties, including a $30,000 gift to a Democratic Party-related organization in 2009. He gave to Giuliani, McCain and Romney in the last election cycle.

Marc Leder and Rodger Krouse, co-CEOs of the private equity firm Sun Capital Partners, Inc., each gave $125,000 to the super PAC. The two also co-hosted a September fundraiser for the Romney campaign. While both Leder and Krouse gave to Romney and McCain in 2008, Krouse also gave to the Obama campaign in 2007.

Other $100,000 donors include Brad Bloom of the private equity firm Berkshire Partners, investor Thomas Kaplan of the Electrum Group, and Stephen Ross, a real estate developer with The Related Companies and an owner of the Miami Dolphins. All have a history of Republican giving.

None of the 12 major Jewish super donors to Restore Our Future responded to requests for comment from the Forward that were submitted through their business offices.

RJC Executive Director Matt Brooks said that the presence of former Obama supporters on the list of Romney super PAC donors validated his argument that Jews are moving away from the president. “I’ve been saying all along that there’s a lot of buyer’s remorse out there, especially in the Jewish community, with people who supported Obama in 2008 who are not supporting him in 2012,” Brooks said.

But Democratic pollster Mark Mellman said that the movements of a few individuals had no broader implications. “In every election cycle there are individuals who, for personal reasons or financial reasons or business reasons, move from one party to the other, and it’s hardly surprising that a couple people end up in the Romney camp who have given to Democrats in the past,” Mellman said.

Contact Josh Nathan-Kazis at nathankazis@forward.com or on Twitter @joshnathankazis


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