Based on recent history, Paul Tudor Jones II, the billionaire hedge fund manager, might soon feel compelled to start another non-profit organization. The reason? One of his highest profile charitable goals in Florida – buying land south of Lake Okeechobee – is starting to catch heat from Black Lives Matter activists in South Florida who don’t like the push to buy their land and flood it in order to preserve the property value of mansions owned by the wealthy elites who live on the coast.
And when the going gets tough, Jones starts a new nonprofit.
Jones has succeeded in being labeled a philanthropist, in part because he annually gives a few million dollars of his multi-billion-dollar fortune to left-leaning charity organizations. These activists are all too happy to use a small portion of his contribution to give him shiny awards at celebrity studded galas, and his public relations operation is excellent about making sure everyone knows he’s hob-nobbing with actual liberal icons like Jimmy Buffett.
But it is exactly this sort of self-promotion, or at least, self-preservation, that seems to be the driving force behind at least a couple of Jones’ nonprofit initiatives. Last year, for example, just four days after being confronted with angry protesters upset about income inequality outside his gated home in Greenwich, Connecticut, Jones announced a new nonprofit entity called Just Capital, with the mission to provide the public with information about how “just” companies are.
Jones wants everyone to believe that ranking 1,000 companies on the factors that the general public perceive to be “just and unjust” will somehow make greedy CEO’s take a lower percentage of their company profits. How, exactly? He doesn’t say. But he used the speech, which occurred at a TED Talk, to flash charts showing corporate charity in the United States had dwindled to around 0.7% of profits, then asked rhetorically, “What does Tudor do? And I realized, we give one percent of corporate profits to charity every year…and I’m supposed to be a philanthropist?”
A moment later, he bragged, to a smattering of applause, that after nearly vomiting from learning of his miserly giving status, his corporate contributions then increased. “Oh, by the way,” he said, feigning non-chalance, “we’ve since quadrupled that.”
While the attendees at the TED Talk seemed at least mildly entertained with Jones’ speech, the protestors from Connecticut were less than impressed. A few months later, they launched a two minute long attack ad taking Jones to task for his philanthopic facade.
Among the more serious of Jones’ sins chronicled in the video:
- Charging obscene fees for his management of public employees retirement funds
- Destroying wetlands to create his own private hunting preserve, for which he was fined $2 million
- Blatant hypocrisy in his income inequality speech, as evidenced by his $71 million Florida mansion, others in California and Connecticut, and a 364,000 acre resort in Tanzania.
- Profiting on investments in sugar while giving money to activist groups who want to end sugar farming in Florida
More recently, in spite of his professed abhorence of income inequality, Jones laid off a significant portion of his hedge fund workforce. Apparently, keeping so many people employed was beginning to hinder his charitable giving.
Jones has also made it clear he supports the radical plan for Florida’s state goverment to buy farmland south of Lake Okeechobee so that it can be flooded. This will, the thinking goes, send more water south, and away from his $71 million coastal estate, where the nutrient rich water might play havoc with his property values.
Of course, while flooding someone else’s home isn’t Jones’ concern, it is a concern of those who currently live and work south of the lake, many of whom are black.
Janet Taylor, a Hendry County Commissioner, recently wrote in Huffington Post:
To us, “buy the land” means destroying jobs. For every acre of farmland that is lost, our jobs are lost in the fields, in the factories and in the numerous professions that support farming communities. In turn, this takes food out of our children’s mouths and threatens the roofs over their heads.
The attacks on our communities in South Florida are a shame, and taking our land would be a tragedy. Recently, I joined with other black leaders in South Florida in beginning the #GladesLivesMatter movement, because I don’t want my children growing up in a state where our livelihoods are constantly threatened. The future black leaders of our communities deserve better.
While Hendry’s opinion piece was primarily directed at Florida Senate President Joe Negron, who recently joined Jones in a call to “buy the land,” Hendry takes direct aim at the radical environmentalists behind the “buy the land” movement, which Paul Tudor Jones supports with both his money and his mouth.
Judging from the growing center-left opposition that Jones is starting to attract, it seems at least some groups can see through the philanthropic facade. But not everyone can see the truth. Florida’s environmentalists, who are almost completely dependent on Jones’ contributions, march in lockstep with their benefactor, even if it means compromising their mission.
This is part of a multi-part series examining the controversial philanthropic giving of billionaire hedge-fund manager Paul Tudor Jones and how it has compromised environmental groups in Florida. See other parts here:
Coming Soon: How Paul Tudor Jones Controls South Florida Environmentalists