“We can finally identify one of the largest holders of Puerto Rican debt,” The Intercept headlined its expose of American financier Seth Klarman on Tuesday after Klarman’s Boston company disclosed its Puerto Rican investments. Reporter David Dayen linked the Puerto Rican credit with some of Klarman’s political activity.
Klarman, who has been described as the Oracle of Boston, has a history of buying unpopular or distressed assets on the cheap in hopes of a payday. Baupost manages over $30 billion in assets. He is known as the top campaign contributor in New England, [Number one, per the Boston Globe] and has been a major donor in Republican politics in Massachusetts, including largely secret support for 2016’s Question 2, an ultimately unsuccessful effort to lift a state cap on charter schools. Klarman supported Hillary Clinton in 2016, calling Trump “completely unqualified for the highest office in the land.”
Klarman’s involvement in Puerto Rican debt will surely come as a surprise to activists in Massachusetts and Puerto Rico, who have never mentioned him among the “vultures” who are causing undue pain for the island’s U.S. citizens.
We’ve reported on the fact that Klarman’s foundation gives a ton of money to liberal causes.
The Klarman Family Foundation (with an annual budget of about $40 million) gives tons to hospitals and arts organizations, the ballet, Shakespeare, Big Brother, Planned Parenthood, and NARAL. It has also given money to public television.
(That was in 2011; but filings show that pattern continued thru 2014).
Seth Klarman is also passionate about Israel. He is the money behind the Israel Project, a neoconservative propaganda group; MEMRI, a translation service for Arabic sources on Palestine that fosters Islamophobia; the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (a neoconservative thinktank); CAMERA, the pro-Israel media hounds; Birthright, to the tune of $1.5 million a year (the program to get young Jews, and only Jews, to Israel so they will support it); Israel on Campus Coalition (fighting BDS, or boycott); the David Project, which also fights for Israel on campuses; the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, a pro-Israel group, and so on. He also supports the Times of Israel.
At one time Klarman gave money to the Central Fund for Israel, which provides for illegal settlers on the West Bank.
One organization he chairs is called Facing History and Ourselves. It describes itself as an anti-genocide educational organization, focused on the Holocaust. But in the Klarman Family foundation federal filings, the purpose of Facing History is characterized baldly (in the same terms as other pro-Israel groups). “To strengthen the Jewish community and support a Jewish democratic state of Israel.”
And Martha Minow, the dean of the Harvard Law School, is on the board of that religious organization. I wonder whether she sees the same purpose in it as the chairman does.
Klarman is a powerful and compelling individual with a very strong worldview. Max Blumenthal is puzzled that the Intercept left that part out; and so am I.
— Max Blumenthal (@MaxBlumenthal) October 4, 2017