Hedge fund manager, self-made billionaire and philanthropist Leon Cooperman has once again made a very public foray into the political discussion this week – though he is no stranger to such overtures.
Continue Reading Below
Cooperman, the chairman and CEO of Omega Advisors, has made headlines recently for exchanging words with Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, a leading candidate for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.
But it’s not the first time he has stirred up some controversy by making statements, oftentimes directly to political leaders, about their policies.
Here’s a look at some of the instances where he sounded off on the country’s leaders, or prospective leaders.
In 2011, Cooperman was reportedly so concerned about the economy that he joked about running himself.
However, upon realizing that he was “not cut for politics,” he instead floated a nine-point presidential plan. Among the items included in the plan were, withdrawing all troops from Iraq and Afghanistan, creating a Works Progress Administration to rebuild the nation’s infrastructure, limiting government spending, freezing entitlements and imposing a temporary 10 percent surtax on people earning more than $500,000 per year.
A letter to President Obama
In Nov. 2011, Cooperman wrote an open letter to President Barack Obama, alleging his response to the financial crisis was both “profligate and largely ineffectual.”
He went further, however, to accuse the then-president of “class warfare.”
“With due respect, Mr. President, it's time for you to throttle-down the partisan rhetoric and appeal to people's better instincts, not their worst,” the letter read. “Rather than assume that the wealthy are a monolithic, selfish and unfeeling lot who must be subjugated by the force of the state, set a tone that encourages people of goodwill to meet in the middle.”
According to Forbes, Cooperman gave a $2,300 donation to President Obama, after having donated $2,100 to John McCain in 2008.
Tongue-in-cheek donation to Hillary Clinton
Cooperman gave $1,000 to Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign, for a chance to meet her in person, so he could tell her she was fueling hatred of the rich.
As it turned out, however, Clinton ended up skipping the Florida fundraiser and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, took her place. The businessman asked for a refund.
Cooperman notably accused Clinton of “crapping” on hedge funds.
War with Warren
This election cycle, Cooperman has engaged in a war of words with Warren. Once again, the topic is her so-called “vilification of the rich.”
Cooperman initially suggested in a tweet that she was “sh***ing” on the American dream.
In a tweeted response, Warren asked Cooperman to “pitch in a bit more” so everyone else has a chance at the American dream like he did.
The self-made billionaire then addressed her in a letter, first published by CNBC, where he said her “vilification of the rich” is either “grossly misinformed” or she was “knowingly warping the facts.”
Support for Bloomberg
Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is filing paperwork to declare himself as a Democratic candidate in Alabama – though he is not expected to compete in the early voting states.
And he already has at least one fan in Cooperman.
Cooperman told CNBC that he is a “huge fan” of Bloomberg and will support him as a candidate in the 2020 Democratic primary.
"I'm a huge fan of Michael. I know him personally. It's a breath of fresh air," Cooperman said. "Unless he changes his stripes, he will have my unequivocal support."
Bloomberg was one of the wealthy individuals Cooperman cited in his letter to Warren as proof that not every rich American was born into wealth.