Seth Klarman boosts Cory Booker for Senate

By Lawrence Delevingne

Tue Aug 13, 2013

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The Baupost founder is one of several hedge fund managers hoping for a Cory Booker win in New Jersey today.

  Cory Booker
  Corey Booker at the 2012 Democratic National Convention.
(Photo: Bloomberg)

Baupost Group founder Seth Klarman lives and works in Massachusetts, but he's a lead financial supporter of Cory Booker's bid to represent New Jersey in the U.S. Senate.

Klarman gave $100,000 on July 24 to The Mobilization Project, a super political action committee that supports Booker, currently the Democratic mayor of Newark. The primary election is today, and Booker is the favorite.

The new disclosure is not Klarman's first donation to boost Booker. In May, he hosted a luncheon fundraiser for the politician with chief risk officer Scott Nathan at Baupost's Boston offices. Tickets cost between $1,000 and $5,200, according to an invitation cached on the Booker campaign website.

And the billionaire value investor gave $10,000 to CoryPAC, another political action committee supporting Booker.

CoryPAC is also supported by former hedge fund manager Michael Steinhardt. Like Klarman, Steinhardt is Jewish and an Israel advocate. Booker is also pro-Israel and one of his main policy positions is to support the Jewish state by preventing Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons. "A nuclear-armed Iran is plainly unacceptable. It would pose serious threats to American interests and to our allies, particularly Israel," states the Booker campaign website.

Klarman and Steinhardt aren't the only hedge fund managers behind Booker. Firms supporting the former Rhodes Scholar's run include David Greenspan's Slate Path Capital ($23,400 in contributions) and Rick Gerson's Falcon Edge Capital ($15,000 worth of donations), according to the Center for Responsive Politics. And the principals of $15 million hedge fund Eagle Capital Management, Ravenel Curry III and Ravenel Curry IV, each gave $500,000 to The Mobilization Project, according to a public filing (for more on other Booker donors, see this Center for Public Integrity report).

Baupost employees have given about $3.4 million to political campaigns since 1990, according to an analysis by the Center for Responsive Politics (Baupost doesn't make contributions as a firm). Donations generally favored Democrats until the 2012 election cycle, when staffers gave at least $83,000 to support Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney.

Klarman hasn't always supported Democrats in previous elections. He gave money to Republican Senator Mitch McConnell in 2002, 2007 and 2008 ($4,300); Republican U.S. Representative Eric Cantor in 2009 ($2,400); and the National Republican Senatorial Committee in 2009 ($30,400).

But Klarman has given more than $100,000 to regular political action committees in recent years, according to Federal Election Commission records, and many donations have gone to Democrats. Among them were New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand in 2011 ($1,000), Montana Senator Jon Tester in 2012 ($1,000) and the Massachusetts Democratic State Committee Federal Fund in 2010 ($5,000).

Diana DeSocio, a spokeswoman for Baupost, declined to comment on behalf of Klarman.

ISSN: 2151-1845 / CDC10004H

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