Swiss billionaire uses his fortune to help sway US elections

He’s the international billionaire you’ve by no means heard of and he’s utilizing his huge fortune to help sway US elections.

Reclusive Swiss-born Hansjörg Wyss, 85, who lives in Wyoming, gave $208 million over 4 years from his non-profits to different teams that backed Democrats and progressive causes, The New York Times reported.

Wyss doesn’t seem to be a citizen or everlasting authorized resident of the US, which prohibits him from donating instantly to political campaigns. Federal Election Commission data present he made such contributions till 2003 after which his donations disappeared.

“You don’t see his name show up in FEC filings but that doesn’t necessarily mean that he hasn’t poured hundreds of millions of dollars into influencing US politics or policy,” mentioned Anna Massoglia, an investigative researcher with the Center for Responsive Politics, a authorities transparency group in Washington, DC.

Wyss has despatched a few of his huge fortune derived from a medical machine firm into his eponymous basis and a associated non-profit known as the Berger Action Fund.

From there the money has gone to causes supporting Democrats. The Berger Action Fund gave $35 million in 2019 to the Sixteen Thirty Fund, which has been described as a “dark money” community serving to Democrats.

Cory Gardner
Cory Gardner was defeated by John Hickenlooper in Colorado’s senate race.
AP

The fund helped seed others that labored to unseat Republican Senators in 2020, together with Martha McSally of Arizona, who misplaced to Democrat Mark Kelly, and Cory Gardner of Colorado, who was defeated by John Hickenlooper. Other Republicans it geared toward, together with Sen Susan Collins of Maine, held on to their seats.

Arizona Sen. Martha McSally.
Martha McSally misplaced to Democrat Mark Kelly within the race for Arizona senator.
United States Senate

The Sixteen Thirty Fund additionally gave cash to PACS just like the Lincoln Project working to help Joe Biden defeat President Trump.

More than $1 billion in darkish cash — spending the place the supply of the {dollars} isn’t disclosed — was pumped into the 2020 election, the overwhelming majority of it to profit Democrats, Massoglia mentioned.

The Wyss Foundation in 2019 gave $9.5 million to the New Venture Fund, a sister group to the Sixteen Thirty Fund. That entity sends cash to left-leaning causes just like the Center for American Progress, The Voter Registration Project, and America Votes.

The Berger Action Fund kicked in $1 million in 2019 to an effort helmed by former US Attorney General Eric Holder to flip statehouses in 2020 so as to affect redistricting and get extra Democrats elected to Congress, mentioned Hayden Ludwig, a researcher on the Capital Research Center, a Washington, DC assume tank that focuses on philanthropy.

“Here’s a foreign billionaire who in his own little way, or not so little way, helps to basically unseat a sitting president and get a Democrat elected. Pretty good for a guy who can’t give to Joe Biden’s campaign legally,” Ludwig mentioned.

The Bronx Zoo
Wyss gave $2 million to the Wildlife Conservation Society, which runs the Bronx Zoo in 2018 and 2019.
J.C. RIce

Wyss was raised in Switzerland and began out as a mission supervisor for Chrysler working in Pakistan, Turkey and the Philippines, according to a profile in a Harvard Business School alumni bulletin.

He obtained an MBA from the varsity in 1965. He later joined Swiss medical machine producer Synthes, heading its US operations as CEO and chairman. In 2009, firm executives confronted federal indictment for testing an unapproved bone cement on sufferers, three of whom died.

Wyss stepped down as CEO in 2007, however remained firm chairman till 2012 when it was offered to Johnson & Johnson for $20 billion. He reportedly owned half of Synthes’ shares.

NYU students
Wyss’ basis additionally gave $14 million to New York University.
Matthew McDermott

Wyss signed a pledge in 2013 to give away no less than half of his wealth to charity. Just a few months later he introduced a $5 million contribution to a Clinton Foundation effort to overview the progress made by ladies and ladies around the globe.

He’s lengthy supported environmental causes and, in recent times, his basis has backed a number of New York City based mostly non-profits.

In 2018 and 2019, it gave a complete of $2 million to the Wildlife Conservation Society, which runs the Bronx Zoo and different sights, and $11.3 million to the Open Space Institute in Manhattan, which works to battle local weather change and defend land and water within the Eastern US and Canada. The basis additionally gave $14 million to New York University and $1.1 million to Demos, a social justice group, tax filings present.

Wyss got here ahead, and then dropped out final month, as a possible investor in shopping for Tribune Publishing, the corporate that owns the New York Daily News and different papers.

Price Floyd, a Wyss spokesman, declined to touch upon his donations.

Additional reporting by Jon Levine and Isabel Vincent

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