"(The ultra-wealthy) actually have an insufficient influence"

Those are the words of Chicago's second wealthiest citzen, billionaire Ken Griffin, who last Sunday hosted a fundraiser with Peoria Congressman Aaron Schock for the architect of the plan to end Medicare as we know it, Paul Ryan.  Like many of the wealthiest one percent, Ken Griffin, feels that people like him have "insufficient influence," and his industry is besieged with over zealous government regulators strangling American entrepeneurialism.  If Ken Griffin didn't exist, Ayn Rand would have to invent him.

Luckily for us, the Tribune's Melissa Harris is a much better writer than Ayn Rand.  In an article from last March, we learned that:

 

In the 2012 election cycle, Griffin (alone or in tandem with his wife Anne) has given $150,000 to Restore Our Future, the super PAC supporting Mitt Romney; more than $560,000 to the Republican Governors Association; and $300,000 to American Crossroads, founded by Republican strategists Ed Gillespie and Karl Rove.

According to Chicago magazine, the Griffins were the top donors in the 2010 election cycle to Republicans running for Illinois legislative seats. Also in 2010, Ken gave $500,000 to American Crossroads and $500,000 to Stand for Children Illinois, an education-reform group that helped win Chicago a longer school day and limited the chances of a Chicago teachers strike.

In addition, the Griffins have donated over $1.5 million dollars to the Koch Brothers' Americans for Prosperity, which just this week distributed mailers in support of two Arkansas legislators who have written in support of slavery. 

Nice.  Thank God the Kochs aren't kidnappers.

Of course, the tentacles of Big Money extend much farther that just the Crackpot Right of Movement Conservatism.  The Griffins also are big players in Springfield and Chicago.  They are the prime movers behind Stand for Children Illinois, an education-reform group that helped win Chicago a longer school day and pushed a law which was designed to make it harder for the Chicago teachers to strike. The Griffins have contributed to Rahm Emmanuel who he characterizes as "really one of the brightest men I've ever spent time with."  The reasons why he supports Emmauel is is role in pushing NAFTA through against the wishes of the Democratic base.  It was "really bold."  Check out Melissa Harris'complete transcript and the shorter article.

 

The last insight one can get is from a piece from Chicago Magazine.

 

 

In the second half of 2008, as the economic crisis that took down the investment banks Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers deepened, the market for convertible bonds froze up when major financial institutions ran low on cash. Citadel’s assets plunged in value, and Griffin found himself forced to “put up gates” (that is, forbid investors to withdraw their money). Leverage, or borrowing to increase the size of an investment, magnified the losses: In October 2008, in the midst of the crisis, the Chicago Tribune reported that Citadel’s leverage, which had been 7 to 1—that is, it borrowed $7 for each $1 in assets—had diminished to a still-high 4 to 1. The two biggest funds at Citadel finished the year down 55 percent. Although those two funds made up some of the lost ground with 62 percent gains in 2009, they were still down 27 percent over the two years. Citadel now controls about $11 billion in assets. The $9 billion decline from the high-water mark can be attributed to both lowered asset value and withdrawals by investors after the gates came down.

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