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  • Stephen Schwarzman, co-founder, chairman & CEO of the The Blackstone Group, speaks at the Bloomberg Global Business Forum 2019 at the Plaza Hotel in New York, New York, USA. September 25, 2019.

    Stephen Schwarzman, co-founder, chairman & CEO of the The Blackstone Group, speaks at the Bloomberg Global Business Forum 2019 at the Plaza Hotel in New York, New York, USA. September 25, 2019. | Photo: EFE/EPA/Peter Foley

Published 9 September 2020
Opinion

According to a Reuters review of regulatory filings, Blackstone Group Inc Chief Executive Stephen Schwarzman has spent more than $27 million so far this year, including President Donald Trump, making him Wall Street's largest campaign contributor.

With less than two months before the U.S. presidential elections, Schwarzman, whose net worth is pegged at $18.2 billion, has more than doubled his contributions since the 2018 midterm elections and has raised them fivefold since the 2016 presidential elections. 

A lifelong Republican, Schwarzman has given more this year to Republican political campaigns than the other Wall Street executives—such as Michael Bloomberg, George Soros, and Robert Mercer— who outspent him in 2016, according to filings from the Center for Responsive Politics and the Campaign Finance Institute.

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Schwarzman is one of the world's largest real estate investors, previously chairing the White House Strategic and Policy Forum (disbanded in 2017), currently serving as a member of the Great American Economic Revival Industry Groups, and remaining on as an informal Trump adviser.

With $564 billion in assets, Blackstone has seen its shares rise 70% during Trump's presidency. Schwarzman has praised Trump's lowering of corporate and personal taxes yet also advocated for closer US-China ties, including contributing $575 million to an international scholarship program with Tsinghua University in Beijing.

 
Donating $3 million in March to the Trump-aligned America First Action Super PAC, Schwarzman's largest donations in 2020 has been to the Senate Leadership Fund ($20 million) and the Congressional Leadership Fund ($2.5 million), two Republican Super PACs designed to maintain or secure the party's majority in both houses of Congress.
 
The hike in his election spending comes as Trump trails Democratic contender Joe Biden in opinion polls, and the Republican party fights to keep control of the Senate. While Blackstone declined to comment on Schwarzman's increased contributions, Paul Herrnson, a research fellow at the Center for Responsive Politics, said: "Schwarzman, like many Republican donors, believe this will be a close election."
 
Interestingly, other senior Blackstone executives, such as president Jonathan Gray and his predecessor Tony James, are prominent donors to the Democrats, having spent millions this campaign cycle already, including to Joe Biden.
 
 
 

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