Former Romney Super PAC Man And Gristedes CEO Will File For A Mayoral Bid Today

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Over the summer, for my 'Mitt Loves N.Y.' series, John Catsimatidis was one of the few profiled donors that reached out to me for an interview. We conversed over the phone about his $50,000-plus donation to Restore Our Future - the super PAC that tried (and failed) to guarantee Romney a seat in the Oval Office. 

On the FEC filings, the money came from Catsimatidis's United Refinery Company, a gas pumper that boasts a $2.3 billion or so profit. He told me that "the Obama administration was 100% wrong" for not drilling nearly enough and proposing a gas tax (which never really happened); in other words, his donation to Mitt Romney came with the stipulation, 'Drill, baby, drill.' So much for that.

The NYU-dropout-turned-supermarket-and-oil-billionaire described himself on his website as "the personification of the American Dream." And he may be right: his family came to Harlem from Greece when he was young and, when he was in his early 20s, he opened a small supermarket Uptown. Within a few years, he would turn it into the Red Apple and Gristedes empire we know all too well. The company's net worth is now somewhere near $4 billion or so.

Oh yeah, and, today, he'll file papers to conduct an exploratory committee for the Mayorship of New York City next year.

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N.Y. Doesn't Love Mitt: SuperPAC Valve for Romney Dries Up

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Throughout the summer, our 'Mitt Loves N.Y.' series followed the money trails of New York's wealthiest citizens, all of which ended in Romney's campaign war chest. The donors we profiled donated a million or two each month since it was made clear around April that Mitt would be their man to defeat Obama in November. 

And that all stacked up in the ex-Governor and ex-Bainman's favor: with all the money combined, it was easily proven that this election would be the most expensive to date for both parties. The SuperPACs were raising corporate money from a select handful of individuals that would have FDR rollin' in his grave; less than double digits in the millions was frowned down upon and marked as a failure in the monthly reports. At one point, the Republican campaign was raking enough cash to make the incumbent President worried for his life - the Obama team sent out e-mails with subject lines more desperate for unfiltered money than a crackhead on payday.

My series solely concentrated on donors giving to the SuperPAC, Restore Our Future. If there is to be any historical document on the future that reflects upon the Citizen United decision's impact on American democracy, Restore Our Future would be case study numero uno. The organization was pulling in absurd donation amounts almost weekly that blew other SuperPACs, like Crossroads GPS (Karl Rove) and Americans for Prosperity (Koch brothers), clear out of the financial water.

However, through a culmination of hurtful gaffes, citizenry-distancing and not-that-shitty economic numbers, Romney has found himself falling behind Obama on all fronts: poll numbers, economic approval ratings and, most importantly, SuperPAC money. 

To which we can safely say: N.Y. no longer loves Mitt.


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NY AG Eric Schneiderman's Subpoenas Aimed at Private Equity Firms, Bain Capital & Romney Donors Included

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The New Yorker
In a few weeks, this might be the Issue of the Election or the Story That Brought Romney Down. At this point, only time can tell.

Yesterday, the New York Times reported that New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has begun to send out subpoenas to investigate the tax situations in numerous private equity companies situated in the Big Apple, including Bain Capital, Republican hopeful Mitt Romney's coup de grace and the subject of his Horatio Alger story. 

According to the piece, the legal action is focused on the belief that these private equity companies "converted certain management fees collected from their investors into fund investments;" in a simpler diction, the companies are charged with writing off millions of dollars worth in taxes - Bain saving almost $200 million that could have gone to the state government's tax base.

The investigation rides off the coattail of a trove of documents Gawker leaked last month that gave us all a glimpse into the dark, shady world that is Bain Capital and private equity. Downsizing, leveraged buyouts and dollar signs were in abundance as well as long lists of management fees skirted off into the capital gains domain. But although the documents provide the basis for the AG's argument, the subpoenas came before the leak and have no connection to them.

Nonetheless, a look inside what made Mitt rich beyond belief with illegal implications could be destructive in the eyes of voters.... especially when all of his friends are involved, too.
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Mitt Loves N.Y.: Sean Fieler

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With Mitt Romney as its de facto candidate, the roster of Restore Our Future, Romney's designated Super PAC slush fund, reads like a laundry list of New York City's wealthiest denizens. And, according to the Center for Responsive Politics and contrary to popular belief, Super PAC's are receiving a huge majority of their donations from these single individuals rather then enormous corporations.

So, here at the Voice, we're going to tell you a little bit about our neighbors, one donor at a time:

As Mitt returns from what many pundits from across the ideological spectrum have dubbed an epic fail of an abroad trip to London and Israel, we settle back in our profiling seats and dig further into the SEC filings of Restore Our Future. 

While we've been gone, the SuperPAC released this ad touting the Presidential candidate's 'superb' handling of the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics in 2002. And, while they're busy with all that jazz, we've been looking into our next subject, Mr. Sean Fieler.

Like a handful of 'Mitt Loves N.Y.' targets, Fieler's career demonstrates an interesting mash-up of wealth and traditional values. However, he stands apart from the rest with a thought pattern that shows flairs of Ron Paul and Chick-fil-A. As the Chairman of the hedge-fund titan Equinox Partners LP, Fieler has found himself on the fringe of the 'investor-intellect' label. 
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Mitt Loves N.Y.: Henry Kravis

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Forbes
With Mitt Romney as its de facto candidate, the roster of Restore Our Future, Romney's designated Super PAC slush fund, reads like a laundry list of New York City's wealthiest denizens. And, according to the Center for Responsive Politics and contrary to popular belief, Super PAC's are receiving a huge majority of their donations from these single individuals rather then enormous corporations.

So, here at the Voice, we're going to tell you a little bit about our neighbors, one donor at a time:

The Delivering Alpha conference in New York last month invited the wealthiest hedge-funders, stock profiteers and private equity extraordinaires to speak about the state of finance. It's the sort of event that gives Occupy Wall Street protestors nightmares. Henry Kravis, Co-CEO & Co-Chairman of Kohlberg, Kravis & Roberts, was a keynote speaker and told the crowd his thoughts on the public perception of his (and Romney's) call to arms:

"In the '70s and '80s, what private equity did is it changed corporate America. It started holding companies accountable and for the first time owners started thinking like managers. I'm not sure [Romney] needs to be defending private equity per se because he comes from Bain and, in the private equity world, he will get a lot of arrows shot at him."

Luckily, this disparity of trust in the shadowy sector didn't stop the man whose net worth of $4 billion clocked him in at #88 of Forbes's list of U.S. billionaires from donating to the cause.  In July, Kravis poured $200,000 into the Restore Our Future SuperPAC. And, knowing Kravis's past, there's probably plenty more where that came from.
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Mitt Loves N.Y.: Robert Rosenkranz

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delphifin.com
With Mitt Romney as its de facto candidate, the roster of Restore Our Future, Romney's designated Super PAC slush fund, reads like a laundry list of New York City's wealthiest denizens. And, according to the Center for Responsive Politics and contrary to popular belief, Super PAC's are receiving a huge majority of their donations from these single individuals rather then enormous corporations.

So, here at the Voice, we're going to tell you a little bit about our neighbors, one donor at a time:

In the second edition of 'Mitt Loves N.Y.,' we profiled Bruce Kovner - the millionaire financier behind Caxton Associates was an eclectic blend of One Percent rugged individualism and outstanding philanthropy. The facets of an obscene personal fortune mixed with charity tends to always produce a love-hate relationship. 

(And we haven't checked on Kovner in a while: turns out he's been making news lately with a donation of $300,00, along with his wife Suzanne, to YG Action Fund, a smaller pro-Romney SuperPAC that is fronted by House Republican Majority Leader Eric Cantor. Looks like he's doing just fine.)

But back to what we were saying: when a profiteer flashes his or her generous side, we are desensitized to the facts - we became dogs who follow the shiny ball placed in front of our eyes. This isn't necessarily a bad thing; money works in mysterious ways, especially when there is a shit ton of it to go around.

But why mention Kovner? The Caxton man is old news in relation to how far we've come with this series. However, his personal and professional life bear a striking similarity to our next target: Mr. Robert Rosenkranz.

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Mitt Loves N.Y.: Henry Cornell

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With Mitt Romney as its de facto go-to candidate, the roster of Restore Our Future, Romney's designated Super PAC slush fund, reads like a laundry list of New York City's wealthiest denizens. And, according to the Center for Responsive Politics and contrary to popular belief, Super PAC's are receiving a huge majority of their donations from these single individuals rather then enormous corporations.

So, here at the Voice, we're going to tell you a little bit about our neighbors, one donor at a time:

In regards to cash flow, times are looking tough for the Obama campaign. The subject lines of the Obama campaign's e-mails are starting to look more desperate than the plot line of a Jon Cusack movie from the Eighties. "I will be outspent," read the last one. Yes, Mr. President, you are... by millions

In the month of June, Romney raised $105 million, surpassing his challenger by nearly $40 million. The sheer numbers paint an election cycle that will be the most expensive one to date in American history. And, it also illustrates the weight in which the Citizens United decision has shifted in Mitt's favor: Priorities USA, the Democratic version of Restore Our Future, has pulled a little over $14 million - a measly number in the absurd world of politics in the year 2012, compared to the nearly $63 million slush fund Restore has scrounged together. 

With this 'Mitt Loves N.Y.' series, we've shown you the reader some of the faces behind these numbers. And we'll continue to steamroll them out because, as these figures have shown, it's the least we can do. Next up: Goldman Sachs golden child, Henry Cornell.
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Mitt Loves N.Y., Special Edition: Bob Diamond

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In a special edition of 'Mitt Loves N.Y.,'  we are taking our coverage overseas to report on an event that almost happened. It was a story that, thankfully for Mitt, went ignored for the most part by the lamestream media.

With a tip-off from the Voice's Steven Thrasher, we stumbled across a little dinner that the Romney's had put together with a plate price tag of $75,000. But here's the strange part: it was in London... during the Olympics (the family will already be there to support Ann's $77,000 horse, Rafalca, who is running with the U.S. equestrian team).

Now, Presidential fundraising abroad is not exactly unusual: in 2008, Rudy Giuliani, Candidate Obama and Bill Clinton all had donor get-togethers in other countries. Even this past Fourth of July, Valerie Jarrett, Obama's senior adviser, had a big ticket event for the President in Paris. One must remember that only U.S.-born citizens can contribute to elections, according to the FEC. The dinners mentioned above were targeted at U.S. ex-pats, who still can technically donate to a campaign. 

As we have seen repeatedly in our series, the SuperPACs do not abide by civil law: the organizations live by their own rules; a set of windy provisions that are unclear due to the ambiguous Supreme Court decision in Citizens United. And, for that reason, it was reported in February that about 6.4 percent of donations to the major SuperPACs were from unknown and untraceable sources.

Except, for this now-revoked dinner invitation, the source of cash was absolutely clear. The maitre'd's name was Bob Diamond and, as of this past Tuesday, he is resigning from the CEO position of Barclays due to a Parliamentary investigation into the bank's bogus lending practices and fixed interest rates. And so the story begins.
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Mitt Loves N.Y.: Marc Rowan

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Forbes.com
With Mitt Romney as its de facto go-to candidate, the roster of Restore Our Future, Romney's designated Super PAC slush fund, reads like a laundry list of New York City's wealthiest denizens. And, according to the Center for Responsive Politics and contrary to popular belief, Super PAC's are receiving a huge majority of their donations from these single individuals rather then enormous corporations.

So, here at the Voice, we're going to tell you a little bit about our neighbors, one donor at a time:

With an M.B.A. and B.A. from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania in hand, Marc Rowan spoke to the alma mater - one that has pumped out an alumni class that  - with guidance and charm. 

The interview came in November 2009, just a year or so after Lehman Brothers and Bear Stearns begged Wall Street for forgiveness while leaving Main Street in shambles. And Rowan's advice rides off of that bankrupt dynamic, echoing Naomi Klein's The Shock Doctrine: "Mostly, as I've said, we see the best returns following chaos."

We never said it was good advice... unless you're going into the private equity business. With a $70,000 donation to Restore Our Future this past month, totaling $135,000 over the past few months, Gowan is banking on his buyout brother in arms storming the White House.
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Mitt Loves N.Y.: John Catsimatidis

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With Mitt Romney as its de facto go-to candidate, the roster of Restore Our Future, Romney's designated Super PAC slush fund, reads like a laundry list of New York City's wealthiest denizens. And, according to the Center for Responsive Politics and contrary to popular belief, Super PAC's are receiving a huge majority of their donations from these single individuals rather then enormous corporations.

So, here at the Voice, we're going to tell you a little bit about our neighbors, one donor at a time:

At the end of April, the rogue millionaire John Paulson had a little gala for Mitt. The guy that raked in on the housing market's collapse invited the mega-wealth of New York over to his townhouse on East 86th Street to shower Romney with donations. 

As sirens blasted outside and security efforts stifled the media, a group of "older white people, mostly men" huddled around the Presidential candidate to talk business.

One of these men was John Catsimatidis. On his own website, Catsimatidis describes himself as the "personification of the American dream." Dropping out of NYU to throw hope into the supermarket business, Catsimatidis opened his first Red Apple supermarket in the Upper West Side in 1969. In two years time and only 24 years old, he had opened ten across Upper Manhattan and was making $25 million. The rest is investment, real estate and property re-selling history. (According to Forbes, he's now worth around $2 billion).

And, that night, he told The Daily Beast that he and his fellow profit-seekers were "fighting for the soul of America." The Voice spoke with Mr. Catsimatidis and asked him what this soul-searching election was really all about.

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