Los Angeles might be a deep shade of blue and an ATM for Democrats, but it’s also home to four prominent businessmen who jumped on the Donald Trump presidential train early on with donations and fundraising. They now stand to benefit from their support as Trump is poised to occupy the White House next month. Financier Steven Mnuchin has already parleyed his support into a nomination for Treasury secretary. Longtime Trump friend and real estate investor Thomas Barrack has been tapped to chair Trump’s Inauguration Committee, and venture capitalist Elliott Broidy is also serving on that committee. Downtown developer Geoffrey Palmer stands out as the largest single donor to the Trump election effort. Once Trump takes the oath of office, “he will certainly talk to these folks, though how much he will actually listen to them is an open question,” said Jack Pitney, professor of politics at Claremont McKenna College. “But the real reward for these businessmen will be as a conduit for others seeking access to Trump.”
Residence: Bel Air
Title, Company: Founder, Dune Capital Management; former chief executive, OneWest Bank; former board co-chair, Relativity Media
Role with Trump: Campaign finance chair; transition team member; nominated for Treasury secretary
Donations to Trump election effort: $430,400*
Buzz: Hedge fund owner and Trump’s campaign finance chair; nominated last week for Treasury secretary. Best known in Los Angeles for his dual roles in Hollywood and as a major bank executive. He helped finance several box-office hits, including the “X-Men” film franchise and “Avatar,” and was founding chief executive of OneWest Bank, which arose out of ashes of failed IndyMac Bank. He returned the bank to profitability before it was sold last year to CIT Group for $3.4 billion. But during his time as chief executive, OneWest faced numerous allegations of improperly administered foreclosures and of redlining with those foreclosures. Mnuchin’s Dune Capital Management also purchased a stake in Relativity Media, an independent film studio that filed for bankruptcy last year. Mnuchin was nonexecutive board chairman for almost a year prior to the bankruptcy filing.
Geoffrey H. Palmer
Residence: Beverly Hills
Title, Company: Principal, GH Palmer Associates
Role with Trump: Major donor
Donations to Trump election effort: $4.31 million*, mostly to Super PACs
Buzz: Largest single donor to Trump’s election effort, a distinction which netted him attention in several media profiles during the campaign. Better known in Los Angeles for his faux Italian renaissance multifamily developments in and around downtown and the sometimes controversial tactics used to build them. In 2014, his under-construction Da Vinci development downtown was torched by an arsonist; flames and heat damaged several surrounding buildings. Founded development company in 1979; his portfolio has grown to more than 10,000 apartment units, one-third of them in the downtown area. Admirers say he is one of the pioneers in returning residents to downtown; critics say he has removed historical structures, built uninviting, fortresslike structures, and lobbied to keep affordable housing units out of his complexes. He has over the years been penalized several times for violating local campaign finance laws. Has never said publicly why he’s been such a prolific Trump donor and has refused all interviews on the subject. His wife, Anne, is a Los Angeles County Museum of Art trustee.
Title, Company: Chief Executive, Colony Capital
Role with Trump: Donor, fundraiser; speaker at Republican National Convention; Inauguration Committee chair
Donations to Trump election effort: $425,000*
Buzz: Billionaire real estate investor (No. 38 on the Business Journal’s Wealthiest Angelenos list) whose Colony Capital has nearly $19 billion in assets under management. Investments include office buildings, hotels, Napa vineyards, Swiss hospitals, Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ranch, and Annie Leibovitz’s photography portfolio. First encountered Trump in 1980s at the negotiating table over deal for New York’s Plaza Hotel tower; subsequently became close personal friend. Spoke on the final night of the Republican National Convention and made the rounds talking up the Republican nominee. “Trump has built his reputation on consensus, on conciliation, on compromise, and on getting things done. And I believe that people will be awed by the future success of a Trump presidency,” he told The Hollywood Reporter. After the election, Trump named him to chair his Inauguration Committee. He has reportedly taken himself out of the running for an official Cabinet post, though he’s likely to remain part of Trump’s informal kitchen cabinet of advisers.
Residence: Bel Air
Title, Company: Chief executive, Broidy Capital Management
Role with Trump: One of six vice-chairs for Trump Victory Fund; after election, Trump appointed him to Inauguration Committee
Donations to Trump election effort: None himself, but major fundraiser
Buzz: Century City venture capitalist and major Trump fundraiser, whom Trump also named to his Inauguration Committee. After starting his career at Arthur Andersen, founded his own investment firm, Broidy Capital Management, in 1991. In 2002, founded Markstone Capital, a private equity firm that invested in Israeli ventures and placed some New York State pension investments. The pension fund deal came back to burn him as he got caught up in a bribery scandal. Pleaded guilty to a felony charge of bribing public officials, which was reduced to a misdemeanor for his cooperation and a settlement of at least $18 million. Longtime supporter of Republican candidates in California and across the nation. Did not donate directly to Trump election effort; instead, he was named as one of six vice-chairs for Trump Victory Fund, essentially a role as donation bundler. Guilty plea likely took him out of running for any official post in Trump administration, but might be part of Trump’s kitchen cabinet.
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