After 12 Minutes on the Picket Line, Biden Jets Off to Fundraiser With ‘Abolish Policing’ Billionaires

President Joe Biden joins striking members of the United Auto Workers on the picket line in Belleville, Michigan, September 26, 2023. (REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein)
September 26, 2023

After spending 12 minutes on a picket line with auto workers in Detroit, "Union Joe" Biden is heading to a fundraiser at the California home of a billionaire couple that funds the movement to "abolish policing."

It took "the most pro-union president in history" two weeks to join protesters for one of the largest strikes in a generation. After his brief stop in Motor City, Biden headed to Atherton, California, for a fundraiser at the home of hedge fund heiress Liz Simons. Simons and her husband, Mark Heising, run the Heising-Simons Foundation, which backs a variety of left-wing causes.

One of those groups is the Moving Beyond Policing Coalition, which aims to "explore a long-term, national infrastructure to abolish policing." The Heising-Simons Foundation gave a $300,000 grant to the coalition in 2020 as part of an initiative to "address anti-Blackness and police violence" in the United States.

The visit to the Heising-Simons residence may create an optics problem for the president on two hot-button political issues. Biden’s affiliation with donors to the anti-police movement calls into question his frequent claims that the Democratic Party does not support the movement to defund police. And Biden’s billionaire fundraiser marks a stark contrast to his message to blue-collar auto workers in Detroit. Speaking at a Ford plant on Tuesday, Biden said union members deserve the 40 percent pay raise and other benefits they seek from the Big Three automakers.

​​"Wall Street didn't build the country; the middle class built the country, and unions built the middle class," he said.

Heising and Simons are two of the Democratic Party’s biggest donors. They have contributed $635,000 to groups supporting Biden since 2020 and gave more than $2.2 million to the pro-Democrat Senate Majority PAC last year, according to campaign finance records.

Simons’s father is legendary hedge fund manager James Simons. The elder Simons, another major Democratic donor, was accused of dodging $6 billion in taxes by shielding income from day trading as long-term investments. In 2021, Simons and his hedge fund, Renaissance Technologies, agreed to pay $7 billion in unpaid taxes as part of a settlement with the Internal Revenue Service.

Biden has had a tenuous relationship with the United Auto Workers, which has held off endorsing the president because of his position on the industry’s transition to electric vehicles. Biden has pushed the auto industry to embrace an all-electric fleet. He has repeatedly hosted General Motors CEO Mary Barra at the White House and credited her for pushing GM to embrace an all-electric fleet within the next decade. Auto workers are skeptical of the transition because electric cars require a fraction of the employees to produce as traditional cars.

"We owe you big," Biden told Barra at a White House event last year.