Schwarzman Plans to Back Trump, Scoring a Wall Street Win for GOP

(Bloomberg) -- Blackstone Inc. Chief Executive Officer Steve Schwarzman says he will raise money for Donald Trump’s campaign, handing the presumptive Republican nominee a major win as he builds his donor base.

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The billionaire private equity chief and heavyweight political donor has long been a major source of funding for Republicans, but he has kept mum for months over whether he will back Trump.

“The dramatic rise of antisemitism has led me to focus on the consequences of upcoming elections with greater urgency,” Schwarzman said in a statement Friday. “I share the concern of most Americans that our economic, immigration and foreign policies are taking the country in the wrong direction. For these reasons, I am planning to vote for change and support Donald Trump for President.”

Axios first reported the news of the private equity founder’s intention to support Trump.

Friday’s announcement is a reversal for Schwarzman, who said in 2022 that he would not back Trump again, calling for a “new generation” of Republican leaders. During the primaries, he gave $2 million to the super political action committee allied to former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, the most vehement critic of Trump among his challengers for the nomination.

Schwarzman’s acquaintances have privately said they expect him to ultimately back the candidate he sees as most likely to win.

Schwarzman is not the first major donor to announce support for Trump after distancing themselves from the former president. Harold Hamm, chairman of Continental Resources, and Home Depot co-founder Bernie Marcus have both hosted fundraisers for the former president after backing his primary rivals.

Mega Donors

Schwarzman, 77, is one Wall Street’s biggest Republican donors. In the 2020 election cycle alone, he donated more than $35 million to entities supporting Trump and other Republican candidates, according to OpenSecrets, a non-profit that tracks campaign finance and lobbying data.

Having Schwarzman’s backing could help make inroads with other wealthy donors in finance, who have been slow to donate to Trump. The former president has struggled to raise as much money as President Joe Biden and has only about half as much cash on hand as his rival, according to the latest federal filings.

Schwarzman’s largess regularly ranks him among the biggest Republican donors along with Citadel’s Ken Griffin, Uline Inc. co-founders Richard Uihlein and Elizabeth Uihlein and quant trader Jeffrey Yass.

Schwarzman served as a liaison between top officials in the Trump administration and foreign leaders during trade talks with Canada and China while the former president was in the White House. Schwarzman chaired Trump’s short-lived council of business executives, which was disbanded after many CEOs defected in the wake of Trump’s response to a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Blackstone’s Reach

Schwarzman made $896.7 million in pay and dividends in 2023, a 30% drop from a year earlier, yet still one of the biggest annual payouts on record in high finance. He is worth $42 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

His fortunes are closely tied to Blackstone, the world’s largest alternatives asset manager. The firm’s vast reach touches everything from single-family homes to insurance companies to helping banks reduce balance sheet pressure.

In September, Schwarzman said in an interview with Bloomberg Television that American voters don’t want older candidates in the 2024 presidential race. Trump, 77, or Biden, 81, will be the oldest person ever elected to the presidency if either of them win in November.

“Apparently the public is not that interested in really older people,” Schwarzman said, citing a survey finding that a majority of registered voters think Biden is too old to run again. “When you have that kind of situation, usually something else happens.”

--With assistance from Bill Allison.

(Updates with more context, details starting in the second paragraph)

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