In the early days of Hillary Clinton's latest presidential campaign, hedge fund managers have taken it on the chin.
“There’s something wrong when hedge fund managers pay lower tax rates than nurses or the truckers that I saw on I-80 as I was driving here over the last two days,” Clinton declared in mid-April as she campaigned in Iowa.
“People aren’t getting a fair shake. Something is wrong when CEOs earn more than 300 times than what the typical American worker earns and when hedge fund managers pay a lower tax rate than truck drivers or nurses,” she repeated a month later when she returned to the state.
Now, one such manager is firing back.
“I don't need anybody crapping all over what I do for a living,” Leon Cooperman, the billionaire founder of the Omega Advisors hedge fund, told CNN on Monday, adding that she “hangs out with all these people in Martha's Vineyard and in the Hamptons and then the very first thing she has to say is to criticize hedge funds.”
Cooperman says he and other maligned hedge fund managers have given millions of dollars back to society in the form of donations to universities, charitable organizations, and cultural institutions.
“I have nothing to apologize for. I've made a lot of money. I'm giving it all back to society,” he said.
Clinton's populist critique of hedge fund manager tax rates has also come under scrutiny for its accuracy.
“Her broad-brush assertion does not hold up to scrutiny, even when the talking point is uttered correctly,” the Washington Post's Glenn Kessler wrote in May. “Overall, even hedge fund managers pay higher taxes—and tax rates—than middle-class Americans.”
The Tampa Bay Times' Politifact concurred.
“She is certainly wrong for dollar amounts, which is what her statement was about. If she meant to say tax rates, that's more complicated, and the data doesn't clearly back up the point. Here, we're looking at just taxes paid, so we rate her claim False,” Louis Jacobson wrote.
Clinton's own son-in-law, Marc Mezvinsky, is a founding hedge fund manager for Eaglevale Partners, LP, and her ties to Wall Street have provided ammunition to rivals like Bernie Sanders and Martin O'Malley. On Sunday, O'Malley renewed that criticism by noting that Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein allegedly said that he would be happy if either Clinton or Jeb Bush were elected president in 2016.
Blankfein is an investor with Eaglevale Partners, which Mezvinsky started with his former Goldman Sachs colleagues Bennett Grau and Mark Mallon.