A billionaire who has drawn criticism for shielding his wealth in an offshore private fund has given Virginia Democrats $150,000 in the closing weeks of tight state elections.
Jim Simons, who is estimated to be worth $21.6 billion, made a single donation of $150,000 to the Virginia Senate Democratic Caucus on Oct. 11, making him one of the largest individual donors during the 2019 election cycle. He is the president of Euclidean Capital and the chairman of Renaissance Technologies LLC, a Manhattan hedge fund firm that manages more than $50 billion in assets. Simons reportedly owns a luxury apartment near New York City's Central Park that is valued at more than $40 million and owns a $65 million private Gulfstream jet. He is also assumed to be the owner of a 219-foot yacht worth $100 million.
Back in 2017, leaked documents revealed that Simons had been secretly amassing billions of dollars in the tax haven of Bermuda for several decades, according to the Guardian.
The documents said the Simons trust was worth about $8bn by the end of 2010. Simons said in a statement that the trust was later divided up, half going to him and the other half divided between his three children. He said most of the money would be used for charity.
The leaked documents indicate that because of the hidden fortune in Bermuda, Simons’ personal wealth was greater than estimates in publicly available rich lists. Simons was worth at least $11.25bn in 2010, according to one filing – about 32% more than the total.
While the Virginia Public Access Project says Simons has only made one donation in Virginia, he has donated tens of millions of dollars to Democratic candidates and liberal causes across the United States. During the 2016 election, he contributed $11 million to Priorities USA, a liberal super PAC that backed failed presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. He has also donated almost $900,000 to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, more than $765,000 to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, and more than $1 million to the Democratic National Committee, according to federal election records.
Simons regularly makes million-dollar contributions to liberal campaign operations. He donated $5 million to Priorities USA in 2012. He also donated $16 million to the House Majority PAC through 2018 and $22.8 million to the Senate Majority PAC through 2018. The megadonor has also made donations to dozens of Democratic lawmakers, including the presidential campaigns of Washington governor Jay Inslee and Sen. Michael Bennet (D., Colo.), who both received $5,600, the maximum allowed under federal law. Inslee has since dropped out of the crowded Democratic primary.
Simons is not the only billionaire who has gotten involved in Virginia. Billionaire financier George Soros's new super PAC dropped $350,000 into Planned Parenthood Virginia, making it the largest contribution in the organization's history, according to the Washington Free Beacon. He also spent $1 million on local Virginia prosecutor races to help elevate far-left candidates, both of whom won their primaries. Donald Sussman, another billionaire hedge fund manager, also donated $100,000 to a Democratic political action committee called Win Virginia, a PAC aimed at helping Democrats overturn Republican control in Virginia's House of Delegates and Senate. LinkedIn co-founder and billionaire Reid Hoffman donated $300,000 to the same group in 2017.
NextGen America, the nonprofit founded by billionaire Democratic presidential candidate Tom Steyer, also spent $1 million in Virginia to register a minimum of 12,000 young voters. Steyer invested $110,000 from his personal funds for these efforts, according to the Free Beacon.
Republicans hold a one-seat advantage in the state's 40-seat Senate and a 3-seat majority in its 100-member House of Delegates going into the November election.