GOP Mega-donors Seek Larger Role in Party's Direction

Tuesday, 18 Feb 2014 10:22 AM

By Lisa Barron

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A group of top Republican donors led by New York billionaire Paul Singer wants to play a bigger role in determining the direction of the GOP and will hold its first major gathering later this month, Politico reports.

Singer, the founder and CEO of hedge fund Elliott Management Corp. and the Paul E. Singer Foundation, formed a club known as the American Opportunity Alliance late last year, bringing together some of the richest pro-business GOP donors in the country, according to the publication.

At the same time, he reportedly established a federal fundraising committee, called Friends for an American Majority, to raise money for some the party's leading 2014 Senate candidates, including Reps. Tom Cotton of Arkansas and Steve Daines of Montana, as well as Alaska's Dan Sullivan, the former head of the state's Department of Natural Resources.

The candidates, along with donors and club members, are expected to take part in a two-day retreat organized by the American Opportunity Alliance at a resort in Colorado during the last week of February, Politico said, citing Republicans familiar with the plans.

House Speaker John Boehner and Sen. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire are also expected to attend the closed-door event, Politico reported.

Singer, who has long been a major force in Republican finance circles, was one of the biggest donors to Mitt Romney in 2012. While he supports traditional GOP positions such as lower taxes and smaller government, he also has been a strong proponent of immigration reform and gay marriage.

Last year, Singer announced a new project to be funded by him and other donors but to be run by the Human Rights Campaign, an LGBT advocacy group in Washington, aimed at fighting discrimination against gays internationally, The New York Times reported.

"Social conservatives have and should have a place in the inner circle of what it means to be a Republican,” he told Times columnist Frank Bruni. But, he said, "There needs to be room for conservatives who have different views on some of the social issues."

It is not clear what if any ideological agenda Singer's club, which is registered as a for-profit corporation in Delaware, will pursue, according to Politico. Contributors to the fundraising account reportedly include a combination of gay marriage supporters such as billionaire investor Cliff Asness and more conventional conservatives, including brokerage magnate Charles Schwab and real estate developer Harlan Crow.

The three Senate candidates who will be at the Colorado retreat have not necessarily backed Singer's stance either, said Politico, noting that Cotton has been a critic of immigration reform, and Tillis backed a ban on gay marriage in North Carolina.

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