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Citadel’s Griffin: Ultra wealthy should flex more political muscle

March 13, 2012   Rob Copeland

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Hedge fund maven compares Obama policies to former Soviet Union. Democratic donor Jim Chanos strikes back.

  Griffin is once again caught over a schism...this one political.

Having recently lifted his firm above its high watermark, Ken Griffin wasted little time in thrusting himself before the body politic by suggesting that the rich should have more sway in the political arena.

In a Q&A with the Chicago Tribune, his hometown paper, Griffen was asked whether the ultra wealthy have an inordinate amount of influence on the political process.

"I think they actually have an insufficient influence," he responded. "Those who have enjoyed the benefits of our system more than ever now owe a duty to protect the system that has created the greatest nation on our planet."

At least one of his industry colleagues on the other end of the political spectrum was quick to disagree. Quipped Jim Chanos, head of $6.5 billion Kynikos Associates, "Come on… I’ll bet you $10 million he didn’t really mean that…."

Griffin is worth approximately $3 billion, according to Forbes. Though he raised millions for fellow Chicagoan Barack Obama in the last election, he recently donated $100,000 to "Restore Our Future," a political action committee supporting Republican candidate Mitt Romney. In the Tribune interview, Griffin said he had donated an additional $100,000 to Romney in the past month, and suggested Obama’s policies implied a belief that government creates prosperity. "We’ve seen that experiment," he said. "The Soviet Union collapsed."

"Why the U.S. is drifting toward a direction that has been the failed experiment of the last century, I don’t understand. I don’t understand," Griffin said.

Don’t expect for Griffin to grow quieter as November nears.

"I spend way too much of my time thinking about politics these days because government is way too involved in financial markets these days," he said, adding later: "I’m seeing the manifestation of an over-involved government in every dimension of what we do here at Citadel. It’s really brutally unfair what it’s doing to large segments of our population. I’m not really sure who the winners are."

See more in politics: Carried interest controversy Occupy Wall Street’s hedge fund fans Hedge funds top list of Obama boosters

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