President Joe Biden took a dig at Wall Street during a 12-minute appearance at a United Auto Workers picket line last month. But immediately after leaving strikers in Detroit, he jetted off to California, where he raised at least $1.9 million for his campaign at the homes of prominent hedge fund billionaires.
Biden raked in at least $800,000 at the Bay Area mansion of private equity billionaire Mark Heising and his wife Liz Simons on Sept. 26, according to campaign finance disclosures. Biden tallied at least $1.1 million more at a fundraiser the following day in San Francisco at the home of hedge fund billionaire Tom Steyer.
Biden’s attendance at the billionaire fundraisers highlights the tightrope he has tried to walk during the UAW strike. While he publicly sides with auto workers, he has cultivated close ties to General Motors chief executive Mary Barra, the highest-paid auto executive in Detroit. Biden has praised Barra for pushing the auto industry towards electric vehicles. That’s an area of concern for auto workers, since electric cars require far less labor to produce.
In Detroit, Biden expressed solidarity with the union, which seeks a 40 percent pay raise from the Big Three automakers. He asserted that "Wall Street didn’t build the country" during an appearance with UAW president Shawn Fain, known for wearing an "Eat the Rich'' t-shirt. Fain also criticized the "billionaire class" in his speech during Biden’s visit.
Biden then flew to Atherton, California, to the home of Heising and Simons. The president spoke for 20 minutes at the fundraiser, which cost between $5,000 and $100,000 to attend, according to reports. Simons is the daughter of iconic hedge fund billionaire James Simons, who settled with the IRS in 2021 over billions of dollars in unpaid taxes. Heising operates the private equity firm Medley Partners, which manages the Simons family’s investment portfolio.
The Democratic power couple runs the Heising-Simons Foundation, which has funded organizations that want to defund police departments. Biden tapped Simons earlier this year to serve on the Coordinating Council on Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.
Steyer, his wife Kat Taylor, and other family members contributed $1.1 million to the Biden Action Fund. Biden came under scrutiny in August after he stayed at Steyer’s Lake Tahoe resort during a family vacation. Steyer provided the accommodations as his green energy investment firm seeks to "take advantage" of federal climate change spending enacted through Biden’s so-called Inflation Reduction Act, the Washington Free Beacon reported.
Biden did not address the UAW strike at the fundraisers, according to reports. He asserted that "Donald Trump and the MAGA Republicans are determined to destroy this democracy," during remarks at the Heising-Simons fundraiser, according to the Los Angeles Times. He criticized then-House speaker Kevin McCarthy (R., Calif.) at the Steyer fundraiser over a standoff on the federal budget.
The Biden campaign and White House did not respond to requests for comment.