Kenneth C. Griffin is a Chicago billionaire that runs the Citadel hedge fund -- $43 billion in assets -- and Citadel Securities. Griffin, Illinois’ richest person, according to Forbes, has become the biggest donor to the Republican Party this election cycle. What does Griffin want out of politics?
Power! And since he isn’t running for office, it’s behind the scenes, pulling the strings type power!
Power, and wherewithal, to spend as much money as he likes, as he did in 2020, when he spent $54 million to defeat a state tax increase referendum, that Democratic Gov. JB Pritzker (also a billionaire) had touted.
The website honestcolumnist.com, (https://honestcolumnist.com/economy/ken-griffin-is-going-all-in-to-unseat-illinoiss-billionaire-governor/), recently pointed out that Griffin has a net worth of about $30 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.
In a wide-ranging October 2021 interview at The Economic Club of Chicago, Citadel Securities’ (https://www.citadelsecurities.com/) Griffin said that he’s “trying to protect the American dream.”
Griffin, who was an early advocate of Operation Warp Speed, to create vaccines to deal with COVID 19, heaped praise on former president Donald Trump, vice president Mike Pence, and Jared Kushner for understanding the crisis that was at hand.
Rather than supporting Trump in 2024, Griffin stated that America “should move on.” When asked whether he supported Florida’s Governor DeSantis, he praised him for his early efforts to deal with COVID, but criticized his position on masks.
Griffin is also an outspoken critic of Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, particularly over gun violence in the city. And he has threatened to leave Chicago, calling the city “like Afghanistan, on a good day, and that’s a problem.”
In early May, according to FOX 32 News, Griffin “donated another $25 million to Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin’s Republican gubernatorial bid,” on top of the $20 million he dropped in February. The primary is scheduled for June 28.
Fox 32 News reported that “Irvin is trying to survive a six-candidate Republican primary race that could ultimately pit Griffin’s billions against the fortune of another billionaire, Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker.”
It appears that Irvin, an African-American, is no fan of Trump. According to WTTW.com, “text messages written by Irvin in 2018 during the middle of the Trump presidency, and obtained by WTTW News, appear to show Irvin has very strong feelings about Trump, and they are not positive. The messages offer some insight into aspects of Irvin’s political beliefs his campaign has been reticent to address.
“And I hate Trump too!” Irvin wrote. “He’s an idiot!!!”
Shortly after, Irvin added, “and a bigoted racist.”
WTTW News also reported that “The text messages also appear to reveal Irvin’s belief in equity and equal rights for the LGBTQ community.”
More recently, in a statement to WTTW News, Irvin said: “I don’t recall sending those texts, and while there are areas where I disagreed, the Trump Administration delivered positive results for Americans like tax cuts, opportunity zones, and a focus on public safety – all of which we utilized to great effect in Aurora and are now a focus of our campaign to take back Illinois from the disastrous Pritzker regime.”
Irvin, who once clearly stated the Black Lives Matter, is now positioning himself as an “All lives matter” candidate.
According to WTTW News, “Darren Bailey, who in a recent WGN-TV poll was found trailing Irvin by 4 points, with 37% of voters undecided, has openly sought Trump’s endorsement and hinted Wednesday that one might be imminent. ‘I am the only America first candidate. I am the only true conservative. And I believe at the end of the day that’s going to earn Trump’s endorsement. There’s a possibility that he may be coming to the Quincy area before the primary and that, yes, we have very high hopes that we will be receiving his endorsement,’ Bailey told a reporter for WMBD-TV in Central Illinois.
According to the Center for Media and Democracy’s Exposed project (https://www.exposedbycmd.org/2022/05/27/chicago-billionaire-ken-griffin-now-the-largest-gop-political-donor/), in three previous election cycles—2015 through 2020—“the largest GOP donor had been Sheldon Adelson, a casino owner who, with his wife, Miriam, gave a total of $413 million to Republican federal candidates, party committees, and other super PACs. But in the wake of Adelson’s death in January 2021, his wife has yet to make major political contributions to this year’s campaigns.”
Since January 2021, Griffin “has already contributed more than $94.6 million to Republican candidates and committees at the federal and state level,” CMD’s Don Wiener reported in late May.
Weiner noted that “One reason Griffin is standing out as the largest state-level contributor in the country is because of a law in Illinois that removes limits on campaign contributions when a wealthy candidate spends heavily with their own money—a law intended to level the playing field. However, given the preponderance of billionaires and near-billionaires funding their own campaigns in the state, the law is instead allowing ever-escalating amounts of money to influence political races in Illinois.”
Honest columnist noted that “Griffin has contributed to Democrats as well as Republicans over the years. But his potential as GOP kingmaker — not only in Illinois, but around the nation — has political circles buzzing.” In early April, “the Wall Street Journal called him ‘a top force behind the GOP’s drive to retake Congress in November.’”
Whether Ken Griffin has his own political ambitions is still unclear. For now, he pumping scads of dough into defeating fellow billionaire, Democratic Governor J.B. Pritzker.