Common Cause Releases Analysis of Hedge Fund Influence in NYS Politics

3,552 campaign contributions to state and local candidates, totaling $23.4 million dollars

NEW YORK, NY (04/18/2012)(readMedia)-- Today Common Cause/NY released a comprehensive analysis ( of the impact of the hedge fund industry on political giving in New York State: Playing the Influence Market. Common Cause/NY reviewed campaign finance filings from January, 2005-February, 2012 and identified 173 hedge funds and their executives as political contributors.

"The Citizens United decision has opened the door to the outsized influence of high dollar donors. Hedge fund managers are unique from average New Yorkers, and even within the financial industry, for their exponential resources. This means that individuals, let alone PACs, can significantly determine the outcome of a political campaign, or policy debate. We need a public financing system to ensure fair elections, and make sure that average voters remain relevant" said Susan Lerner, Executive Director of Common Cause/NY.

With sky-high contribution limits in which individuals are free to give up to $60,800 in a single year to a statewide candidate and unlimited cash to state party soft money accounts, New York's campaign finance system clearly advantages large dollar donors over ordinary New Yorkers and calls into question the role of money in influencing public policy.


The report reveals that hedge funds, hedge fund executives, and their immediate family members made 3,552 campaign contributions to state and local candidates in New York. These contributions amount to $23.4 million dollars. Only $500,000 of this money came directly from hedge funds as corporate donors. The rest came from the fund managers, executives, and immediate family members donating as individuals. Hedge funds have emerged in the last ten years and developed into major political donors as a result of their outsized compensation rates. However, unlike most other politically active industries, like real estate or healthcare, the vast majority of hedge fund industry contributions come from individual executives and their spouses rather than corporate PACs or trade organizations.



Of the Top 20 recipients of hedge fund dollars Governor Andrew Cuomo ($3,486,162.90) and former Governor Eliot Spitzer ($1,947,192.44) lead the list. 14 of the Top 20 recipients are statewide candidates, reflecting the sky-high contribution limits for these offices.

Top 20 Candidates Hedge Fund
Campaign Donations
Office Party Location


1. Andrew Cuomo $2,582,671.57 Governor DEM Statewide 2010, 2014
2. Eliot Spitzer $1,947,192.44 Governor DEM Statewide 2006, 2010
3. Andrew Cuomo $903,491.44 Attorney General DEM Statewide 2006
4. Eric Dinallo $709,261.33 Attorney General DEM Statewide 2010
5. Tom Suozzi $607,000.00 County Executive DEM Nassau 2009
6. Rick Lazio $563,035.00 Governor DEM Statewide 2010
7. David Paterson $553,170.00 Governor DEM Statewide 2010
8. Harry Wilson $480,229.00 Comptroller REP Statewide 2010
9. William Weld $466,816.00 Governor REP Statewide 2006
10. Eric Schneiderman $390,179.88 Attorney General DEM Statewide 2010, 2014
11. Daniel Donovan $297,000.00 Attorney General REP Statewide 2010
12. Jeanine Pirro $295,750.00 Attorney General REP Statewide 2006
13. Alan Hevesi $284,050.00 Comptroller DEM Statewide 2006
14. Craig Johnson $246,750.00 State Senator DEM District 7 Nassau 2008, 2010
15. Rob Astorino $240,752.00 County Executive REP Westchester 2009
16. Christine Quinn $224,625.00 City Council DEM NYC 2005, 2009, 2013
17. Kathleen Rice $221,249.00 District Attorney DEM Nassau 2006
18. Kathleen Rice $212,750.00 Attorney General DEM Statewide 2010
19. Stephen Saland $196,150.00 State Senator REP District 41 Dutchess 2010
20. Roy McDonald $166,150.00 State Senator REP District 43 Saratoga-Troy 2010

Only one New York City candidate, Council Speaker and 2013 Mayoral candidate Christine Quinn, appears on the Top 20 list. This is clearly an effect of New York City's Public Financing program. In addition to matching the first $175 of any individual donation 6 to 1 with public money, New York City enforces an individual contribution limit of $4,950 – much lower than the state level.


The high level of donations to seven of the Top 10 Senate candidates is clearly linked to advocacy of two policy issues -- the legalization of same-sex marriage and the expansion of charter schools.

Top 10 State Senators Hedge Fund Campaign Donations Party District Location Cycle(s) and Description
1. Craig Johnson $246,750.00 DEM 7 Nassau 2008, 2010 - Very competitive races, lost in 2010 by less than 500 votes. Strong supporter of charter schools.
2. Stephen Saland $196,150.00 REP 41 Dutchess $141,150 raised in 2012 cycle in response to vote in favor of legalizing gay marriage
3. Roy McDonald $166,150.00 REP 43 Saratoga,
Albany area
$147,150 raised in 2012 cycle in response to vote in favor of legalizing gay marriage
4. Eric Schneiderman $160,000.00 DEM 31 Nassau County $92,500 raised in late 2009 and early 2010 and transferred to Attorney General campaign
5. James Alesi $150,650.00 REP 55 Rochester All raised in 2012 cycle in response to vote in favor of legalizing gay marriage
6. Mark Grisanti $94,800.00 REP 60 Buffalo All raised in 2012 cycle in response to vote in favor of legalizing gay marriage
7. Brian Foley $80,250.00 DEM 3 Suffolk 2008, 2010 - Very competitive races, State Senate majority at stake, lost in 2010
8. Basil Smikle $76,600.00 DEM 30 Upper Manhattan 2010 primary candiates against Bill Perkins, ran on a pro-charter school platform, raised more than a third of his total campaign dollars from hedge fund donors identified here.
9. David Valesky $70,000.00 DEM 49 Syracuse area 2006, 2008, 2010 - competitive races
10. Lynn Nunes $67,000.00 DEM 10 Jamaica, Queens 2010 primary candiates against Shirley Huntley, ran on a pro-charter school platform, raised more than a third of his total campaign dollars from hedge fund donors identified here.

Democrats vs. Republicans

In the 2006 and 2008 cycles, hedge fund donors at the state and local level in New York gave to Democratic candidates and committees over Republicans at a rate of greater than 4 to 1.

In the 2010 cycle the overall Democratic Party advantage narrowed to closer to 2 to 1 and in the 2012 cycle thus far, Republican candidates and committees have received more donations than Democrats, $1.4 million to $1.1 million.

Top Donors

Top 10 Hedge Fund NYS Campaign Contributors

NYS Campaign Contributions
(January 2005 - February 2012)

1. Renaissance Technologies $4,198,377.69
2. Elliott Management Corporation $2,000,285.00
3. Caxton Associates LP $1,072,800.00
4. Soros Fund Management $915,298.27
5. Greenlight Capital LLC $592,729.88
6. York Capital Management $538,350.00
7. Third Point Management LLC $487.667.00
8. Entrust Capital Partners LP $445,370.77
9. Gracie Capital $416,433.05
10. Eagle Capital Management $412,950.00
Total: $11,080,261.66 out of
$23,439,462.11 for all identified hedge funds

Full report available here: