This content is from: Corner Office

Paul Singer’s Fight for the Soul of the GOP

A hedge fund titan uses his money to support establishment Republicans – but will it be enough?

  • Michelle Celarier

Hedge fund billionaire Paul Singer, a major Republican Party donor, tried to keep Donald Trump from getting into the White House, going so far as financing opposition research on the now-president.

Yet, with midterm elections one year away, it might take all of Singer’s efforts just to keep the Republican Party from imploding.

As a major funder of the #neverTrump campaign, Singer – the CEO of $34 billion hedge fund firm Elliott Management – left no stone unturned in an effort to stop Trump from gaining the Republican nomination last year. One example: The Washington Free Beacon, a conservative website backed by Singer, was the first to engage Fusion GPS, a political research firm, to do opposition research on Trump and other Republicans, the New York Times reported Friday.

Fusion GPS’s work for Free Beacon ended in May of 2016, but by April Fusion GPS was also working for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, according to the Times. Fusion GPS eventually hired former British spy Christopher Steele, leading to the infamous dossier alleging Trump’s ties to Russia and claiming a conspiracy between the campaign and Russia to influence the presidential election. Those allegations are part of a wide-ranging investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller, who will reportedly unveil the investigation’s first indictment Monday.

From Rubio to Trump

Singer – who supported Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio for president in 2016 – and the Free Beacon had nothing to do with financing the dossier, the publication told the Times. After the election, he made peace with Trump, gave $1 million to the inaugural, and visited with Trump at the White House in February. He also supported Trump’s appointment of Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court, making substantial contributions to outside groups lobbying for his appointment, according to a source close to Singer.

After Trump’s election, Singer said at a Bloomberg event in June, “I became optimistic about some of the opportunities in economic growth and regulatory reform, tax reform.” Singer said he and Trump “chatted a bit about taxes and economic policy” when he visited the White House.

Singer, a fiscal conservative, declined through a spokesman to comment on his views on the current Republican Senate tax proposal.

A stalwart Republican, Singer has spent tens of millions of dollars in recent years on Republican candidates and causes. He donated $24 million to outside Republican and conservative groups in the 2016 election, in addition to $10.6 million in 2014 and $2.8 million in 2012, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

Those dollars don’t include Singer’s contributions to individual Republican candidates. Nor do they include his efforts to shape conservative thought: In addition to his support of the Free Beacon, Singer is also chairman of the conservative Manhattan Institute for Policy Research and a major financier of Commentary magazine.

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A Hedge Fund Manager at Odds

But Singer’s establishment Republican credentials are at odds with the party’s base – one that elected Trump and which appears to be gaining power. One example: Singer spent millions of dollars on efforts to legalize gay marriage and helped launch a political action committee to promote gay rights within the Republican Party.

Singer is also a major donor to numerous Jewish causes, including the Republican Jewish Coalition, which was critical of Trump’s response to the mid-August far-right protest in Charlottesville, Virginia, saying Trump should have been more vocal in condemning neo-Nazis and white supremacists who organized the event.

While some Republican financiers have since denounced Trump, Singer has not done so.

Thus far this cycle, Singer has given approximately $1.5 million to Republican candidates and political action committees, more than $1 million of which is going to the Senate Leadership Fund, which works to get Republicans elected – Republicans who are often at odds with candidates backed by former White House chief strategist and Breitbart executive chairman Steve Bannon, who is backing insurgent Republicans who want to oust more traditional candidates.

Bannon has recently won at least one victory, with establishment-backed Senator Luther Strange of Alabama losing the Republican primary to Bannon-backed candidate Roy Moore.

Two establishment Republicans, Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee and Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona, have criticized Trump and say they will not run again rather than face ugly primaries.