A Special Report from the AIM Center for Investigative Journalism
During the presidential campaign of 2016, the far left of the Democratic Party and their acolytes in the mainstream news media have lambasted the pernicious influence of the “billionaires” on a regular basis. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) has identified the politics of conservatives with that of the “billionaire class.” Sanders says on his senatorial website: “Our great nation can no longer be hijacked by right-wing billionaires like the Koch brothers.” Echoing Sanders, The New York Times ran an article on October 10th, which asserted, “…the families investing the most in presidential politics overwhelmingly lean right.” This false assertion is made frequently. The top donors to political campaigns do not “overwhelmingly lean right.” In fact, many lean liberal-left or libertarian.
In fact, our analysis shows that many politically active billionaires provided money and support for a variety of causes that would be anathema to authentic conservatives and grassroots Republicans. A number of the most powerful billionaires provided verbal and financial support for anti-Second Amendment causes; the promotion of abortion; increased trade with communist China and other adversaries of the United States; a lax national defense; increased taxes and unnecessary regulations; promotion of open borders through amnesty and the liberalization of the caps on H-1B visas (which also impairs our national security); and funds to liberal Democrats.
A March 25th Washington Post article by Matea Gold and Tom Hamburger was titled, “In 2016 campaign, the lament of the not quite rich enough.” In that article, there was nary a peep on how the prospective Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton was courting super-wealthy individuals, and how left-wing billionaires are involved in politics.
Cliff Kincaid’s article, “Bernie’s Billionaires,” notes that billionaires on the left include George Soros, the hedge fund operator whose net worth rose from about $9 billion before President Obama took office to over $24 billion today; environmentalist Tom Steyer; gay activist Tim Gill; and anti-Second Amendment advocate Michael Bloomberg.
This report examines several others, such as Bill Gates, Warren Buffett and Larry Ellison.
The “Right-Wing” Billionaires
On many occasions, the mainstream media distort the issue by misidentifying the political ideology of the Koch brothers. The Koch brothers may be “right-wing,” but that doesn’t necessarily make them conservative.
A September 21 Washington Post article by Amber Philips described the Koch Brothers as “libertarian leaning conservatives.” She got it partly right. The Koch brothers are libertarians, whose ideological positions depart from conservatives who place priority on traditional values and a superior national defense. While conservatives and libertarians value free enterprise, the latter believe in open borders and unfettered free trade, without any practical consideration for national security, and socially liberal causes such as abortion and gay rights. Koch Industries and its subsidiaries engage in economic cooperation with Red China and Vladimir Putin’s Russia, support abortion rights, gay marriage, amnesty for illegal aliens, and even engaged in eminent domain disputes against private property holders. Their support for so-called “criminal justice reform” is backed by the Obama administration and George Soros.
There are some billionaires associated with right-wing causes. But the record is mixed. Billionaire hedge fund operator and GOP donor Paul Singer supports a strong Israel, while promoting homosexual marriage. Billionaire Sheldon Adelson, a major GOP donor who runs the Las Vegas Sands, America’s largest casino company, promotes U.S. support for Israeli interests but endorses amnesty for illegal aliens.
Of course, one can’t mention the political influence of billionaires without noting the views of billionaire Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, who, in the past, has funded the campaigns of both Democrats and Republicans. In the current campaign, Trump opposes President Obama’s Iran nuclear deal, supports a strong Israel, opposes Muslim immigration and wants Mexico to build a wall to keep their citizens from illegally entering the United States. He criticizes China’s trade practices but has a history of trying to invest in the old Soviet Union and Russia.
The October 19, 2015, Forbes Magazine lists the top 20 billionaires who are actively involved in supporting political campaigns. Microsoft founder and former CEO Bill Gates, often described as the world’s richest man, is one of the most prominent.
Though a successful capitalist, Gates has expressed admiration for Communist China, funded pro-abortion and anti-Second Amendment causes, and supported more Democrats than Republicans in recent election cycles. One of his favorite causes is the United Nations, through which he finances development of an HIV/AIDS vaccine. He also supports a global tax to generate revenue for the U.N.
Strangely, Gates contemptuously dismissed any role of the free market in playing a role in developing U.S. energy policy. He noted that “Yes, the government will be somewhat inept…But the private sector is in general inept. How many companies do venture capitalists invest in that go poorly? By far most of them.” Instead, Gates prescribed a massive swathe of government regulations to ostensibly protect the environment.
During the recent visit of Chinese Communist ruler Xi Jinping to the United States, he made a point of having a luxurious dinner at Bill Gates’ opulent residence in Washington State. Gates praised the state-dominated Chinese economy as “a brand-new form of capitalism, and as a consumer it’s the best thing that ever happened.” Gates commended the tightly controlled and oppressed Chinese working class for its “willingness to work hard and not having quite the same medical overhead or legal overhead.” Clearly, Gates implicitly appreciates the fact that the cowed Chinese workforce is not protected from the very real abuses of the Communist Party, of foreign multinationals resident in the People’s Republic, and crony capitalists tied in with the Party.
Gates also aggressively made use of the government’s H-1B visa program to hire foreigners that could be compensated less than Americans who invested their own time and money to work in IT fields. Out of a workforce totaling 125,000, Microsoft laid off 18,000 of its employees. This occurred scarcely after Gates called for the lifting of all caps on H-1B visa holders, thus further inflating the U.S. labor market to the detriment of job-hungry Americans. Such labor practices open the door to potential high technology thefts, lost purchasing power of thousands of Americans, and lost tax revenues for state, local, and the federal government.
The new book by Michelle Malkin and John Miano, Sold Out, examines how “high-tech billionaires” such as Gates have lobbied for more H-1B visas and the controversial federal “Common Core” educational standards. The authors name Rupert Murdoch, founder of the parent company of Fox News, and GOP mega-donor Sheldon Adelson, as supporters of the “Big Tech, open-borders agenda.”
In a New York Times op-ed, Gates, Adelson and Warren Buffett supported amnesty for illegal aliens. The column noted that legislation supported by Obama, many liberal Democrats, and establishment Republicans “included a sensible plan that would have allowed illegal residents to obtain citizenship, though only after they had earned the right to do so. Americans are a forgiving and generous people, and who among us is not happy that their forebears—whatever their motivation or means of entry—made it to our soil?”
The Gates Foundation subsidized Planned Parenthood of America, the International Planned Parenthood Federation, and Planned Parenthood of Western Washington to the tune of $71 million from 2009 to 2013. Gates himself admitted that he grew up in a family environment that was friendly to abortion and told Bill Moyers that his father was the head of the local Planned Parenthood.
Gates has also lent considerable support to the anti-Second Amendment activists and special interests. He donated over $1 million to a voter initiative in Washington State which would impose a system of “universal background checks” for all gun buyers. According to Frank Miniter, this initiative would also place severe restrictions on hunting and shooting clubs, which pushed the Washington Council of Police and Sheriffs to oppose this proposal. Miniter also reported that the Gates-funded initiative would make it “more expensive and burdensome for private Americans to do what they’ve always done: trade, buy and sell guns among themselves. According to the Gates initiative, a gun owner can’t sell a Winchester Model 70 rifle to a friend without running the transfer through a licensed gun dealer and paying fees and taxes. A gun owner on a skeet range also can’t say, ‘Hey Bob, can I try a round with your Beretta? I’m thinking about buying a Beretta.’ He can’t buy the gun because, unless he runs off to a licensed dealer and does a lot of paperwork and pays fees, it would be illegal.”
Perhaps it should be no great surprise that Gates and his foundation dumped more money into the political campaigns of Democrats than Republicans in the elections of 2014. They included such hard-core leftists as Congressman Jim McDermott (D-WA) and Senator Patty Murray (D-WA).
Another politically active billionaire who clearly advances the agenda of a myriad of liberal causes is Warren Buffett. Although a great source of wisdom for ordinary investors, the super-wealthy investor guru supported measures which would clearly impair investment and opportunity in the American economy.
Buffett urges higher taxes on the wealthy and castigates his fellow super wealthy class for evading taxes. Yet Buffett’s firm, Berkshire Hathaway, funded the relocation of Burger King Worldwide to Canada in order to participate in the very tax dodging that he says he opposes. Even Obama agreed that the Buffett Rule of raising taxes on billionaires and millionaires was a “gimmick.” Buffett himself seems to avoid paying his “fair share” of taxes. According to Barron’s, Buffett “for the tax year 2010, he [Buffett] paid $6.9 million on taxable income of $39.8 million, according to partial disclosures he made in 2011. What is astounding about those numbers is not the 17.3% tax rate, but that Buffett’s $39.8 million of taxable income is only about 0.05% of his reported net worth.”
Buffett and his family foundations supported other causes associated with the far left. The Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation provided $600 million to organizations promoting abortion. Funds were also provided by Buffett himself and his firm Berkshire Hathaway. The director of the foundation’s domestic programs, Judith DeSarno, remarked that Buffett’s motivation to support abortion-related causes was economic: “For Warren, it’s economic…He thinks that unless women can control their fertility—and that it’s basically their right to control their fertility—that you are sort of wasting more than half of the brainpower in the United States.” Buffett also supports amnesty for illegal aliens. He noted that “people should be able to earn citizenship that are here…I do not think we should deport millions and millions of people…so I think we should have a real path to citizenship.” Buffett also provided support for gun control advocacy organizations. For example, he served on the board of Everytown for Gun Safety.
Perhaps it is no surprise that Buffett provided massive funds for liberal Democratic candidates. In 2015, Buffett and his associated interests funneled over $58,000 to the DNC, Hillary Clinton, and Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR). Buffett was also an early donor to the Obama campaign. In 2007, Buffet donated almost $7,000 to Obama’s war chest. Other estimates spoke of donations of $13,800 to the Obama campaign. Buffett and his allied interests donated funds to the campaign of Hillary Clinton. Buffett also donated $30,800 to the Democratic National Committee in 2011 and another $30,000 in 2012. It is no surprise that Fortune Magazine ranked Buffett as the seventh largest contributor to political campaigns. Buffett the Billionaire himself had words of admiration for the socialist Bernie Sanders, saying in an interview with Reuters that “I think we all have lessons to learn from him (Sanders).” In the end, Buffett stuck by his support for Hillary Clinton.
Larry Ellison and the Waltons
Billionaires such as Larry Ellison of Oracle and the Waltons of Walmart fame are examples of billionaires who personally, or through their corporations, support various left-wing causes and candidates and communist regimes.
Walmart was a well-known promoter of engagement with the communist countries of Vietnam and China, and a board member of the US-Cuba Trade Council. The US-Cuba Trade Council was a big-business lobbying group which sought the elimination of the American embargo on Communist Cuba.
Ellison attended a White House dinner which hosted the Communist ruler Xi Jinping, other top Red Chinese officials, CEOs of big American corporations, Obama administration officials and assorted Democratic senators and representatives. Ellison was a staunch supporter of free trade with Red China. He observed that “the Biggest Risk is not investing in China. That is a mistake we are not going to make.”
The reality is that high technology and capitalist investment are all part of the Communist Chinese strategy of modernizing communism in China and other like-minded nations by using the wealth generated by capitalism.
Oracle is also an active force in lobbying for the expansion of the pool of H-1B workers in the United States. In 2013, they lobbied the U.S. Senate for an increase of H-1B visa workers from 65,000 to 180,000. Besides the economic impact, the issuance of H-1B visas also opens up a potential national security risk. According to government statistics from 2012, 22,858 H-1B visa holders are Russian, Red Chinese and Venezuelan nationals. As Hannas, Mulvenon, and Puglisi wrote: “Complementing the technology outreach organizations in China and PRC venues operating within the United States itself are well over 100 US-registered China advocacy groups that aim directly at technology transfer or achieve this as a consequence of their organizational structure. While some of these groups are open to professionals of any ethnicity, most are made up of overseas Chinese-US citizens, green card holders, H-1B visa workers, and graduate students-whose interests coincide with those of their ancestral country.”
While prosecuting Chinese espionage agents, U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag remarked that “As today’s case demonstrates, sensitive technology developed by US companies in Silicon Valley and throughout California continues to be vulnerable to coordinated and complex efforts sponsored by foreign governments to steal that technology.” Hence, the issuance of H-1B visas facilitates technology transfers and leaks to China, Russia, and Venezuela (which in turn would pass technologies to their anti-American sponsors).
Oracle has bankrolled Republicans, along with some of the most left-wing Democrats one can find.
Despite the ranting of Sanders or the misreporting by various mainstream media outlets, the evidence shows that many billionaires are not ideological conservatives or right-wingers. The “billionaire class” is mostly on the side of Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, and the causes embraced by the Democratic Party.