A watchdog group is helping people track how hedge fund managers use their wealth to influence politics, except when those hedge fund managers support union causes.
Hedge Clippers, which is primarily funded by the union-backed Strong Economy for All Coalition, tracks what political causes hedge fund managers support financially. The group argues voters have a right to know how wealthy special interests impact politics. Nevertheless, the group is very selective in how it decides what cash to track.
“Hedge Clippers claims to hold the one percent accountable,” Center for Union Facts Executive Director Richard Berman told InsideSources. “In reality, it is a union-funded exercise in misdirection. Teachers unions use the group to attack those who fund charter schools without appearing anti-student.”
Hedge Clippers has relentlessly attacked wealthy investors who have supported charter schools, and the group criticizes wealthy special interests for supporting Republicans while ignoring many wealthy liberals who support Democrats.
George Soros doesn’t receive the same scrutiny from the organization. Soros is one of the most well-known and politically-active hedge fund managers in the world. His omission from scrutiny by Hedge Clippers would therefore seems to be odd, except Soros’ political leanings line up with those of Hedge Clippers’ union funders.
Hedge Clippers has even teamed up with a film studio financed partly by Soros.
“It’s very clear that the issues they choose are issues, not only supported, but instigated primarily by teachers unions,” said Robert Bellafiore, who played a lead role in passing charter school legislation as a top adviser to former New York Gov. George Pataki. “I don’t think for a minute they’re about economic or any type of justice. It’s clear from the positions they take and the sources of their funds.”
Hedge fund founder Tom Steyer has also been ignored by Hedge Clippers despite being the nation’s leading 2016 campaign contributor. Steyer’s NextGen Climate campaigns for Democrats in key swing states and runs attack ads against Republicans.
“It’s perfectly fine, just don’t make believe you’re some sort of monk trying to bring justice to the people,” Bellafiore went onto say. “Don’t make believe you’re St. Francis, when you’re not. You’re a hired gun working for the teacher’s unions. They should say so.”
Bellafiore has had several encounters with Hedge Clippers and the unions that support it. He found himself at odds with the group for representing charter schools as president of Stanhope Partners, a consulting firm.
“I have never seen strings attached to funding given to schools or advocacy organizations,” Bellafiore stated. “People give money to ed reform because they support what ed reform is about, not to steer it one way or another.”
Labor unions usually align politically with Democrats. Nevertheless, Hedge Clippers has attacked Democrats that have gone against the interest of its union backers. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has been chastised by the group for supporting a campaign to increase access to charter schools.
“The net result would be to harm charter school health and insure the funding of union political operations, as well as their obscene tenure privileges,” Berman also noted.
The New York Post and The 74 began questioning in May whether the group was being used as a front by teachers’ unions. The group prior to that point received positive coverage from a number of left-leaning publications, including New York Magazine.
“They complain about conservative money, not liberal money, which makes them hypocrites,” Bellafiore noted. “Hedge Clippers has been tasked to attack them under this sort of happy sounding social justice title that’s really just protecting someone’s sweet deal.”
Hedge Clippers also appears to be hiding its union influence. It removed almost every mention of its union sponsors from its website not long after being criticized as a front group. The Strong Economy coalition still publicly acknowledges the support it receives from labor unions.
Hedge Clippers did not respond to requests for comment by InsideSources.