Biden Taps Top Campaign Donor To Lead Powerful Treasury Department Commission

Announcement comes weeks after hedge fund founder Orin Kramer cohosted Biden reelection fundraiser

Orin Kramer (L) and Financial Times's Darcy Keller at an Edward Luce book party, May 2012. (Grace Villamil/Wikimedia Commons).
November 13, 2023

President Joe Biden tapped a top campaign donor and hedge fund founder to lead a powerful Treasury Department commission—just weeks after that donor cohosted a fundraiser for Biden's reelection campaign.

Biden's Treasury Department on Thursday announced that Boston Provident founder Orin Kramer will serve as chair of the Commission on Social Impact Partnerships, a body that helps steer millions of taxpayer dollars to state and local governments in the form of grants. The move comes less than two months after Kramer in September cohosted a "Broadway for Biden" fundraiser, which included performances from Lin-Manuel Miranda, Sara Bareilles, and Josh Groban. Kramer also served as a Biden campaign bundler in 2020 and has contributed nearly $500,000 to the Democrat's presidential campaigns.

Biden's decision to name Kramer commission chair—a role the president has the sole authority to appoint—suggests the Democrat is rewarding top donors who support his reelection bid as some in his party sour on his leadership.

Democratic congressman Dean Phillips (Minn.), for example, last month launched a primary challenge against Biden, painting the octogenarian incumbent as unable to defeat former president Donald Trump. Sen. Joe Manchin (D., W.Va.) last week revealed he will not run for reelection and has flirted with an independent White House bid.

Kramer—who in 1992 launched Boston Provident, a hedge fund firm he manages to this day—began fundraising for Biden in March 2020 after first working to elect former South Bend mayor Pete Buttigieg (D.). While it's unclear exactly how much Kramer raised for the president, he is listed as a Biden campaign bundler, meaning he brought in at least $100,000 for the Democrat.

Kramer himself gave Biden's joint fundraising committee $350,000 in 2020. In addition to his September fundraiser, Kramer has so far contributed more than $100,000 to the Democrat's reelection bid.

As chair of the Commission on Social Impact Partnerships, Kramer will lead an advisory body that provides recommendations to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen regarding the Social Impact Partnership to Pay for Results Act, a program that provides millions of dollars in federal funds to state and local governments. The program in 2021, for example, gave the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority up to $8.2 million for a project that provided "clean energy job training to unemployed and low-wage workers." Kramer is tied to the green energy industry—he serves on the board of the Climate Reality Project, a nonprofit led by former vice president Al Gore (D.) that aims to train and support climate activists.

The Treasury Department declined to comment. Kramer did not respond to a request for comment.

Beyond giving Kramer his newfound Treasury Department role, Biden hosted Kramer at an October 2023 state dinner, which featured Australian prime minister Anthony Albanese. Kramer is no stranger to Democratic administrations, having served on former president Bill Clinton's transition team in 1992 before joining the administration in an advisory role in 1995.

This is far from the first time Biden has rewarded a top fundraiser with a position in the administration.

In September 2022, Biden appointed environmental activist Monica Medina, wife of former White House chief of staff Ron Klain, to serve as U.S. Special Envoy for Biodiversity and Water Resources. Biden also tapped prominent liberal donor and Hunter Biden art buyer Elizabeth Hirsh Naftali to serve on the Commission for the Preservation of America's Heritage Abroad, which oversees the preservation of European historical sites. Hirsh Naftali has visited the Biden White House at least 13 times, the Washington Free Beacon reported in July.