Nov. 15 (Bloomberg) -- Chicago hedge fund executive Kenneth Griffin, who raised more than $50,000 for Barack Obama in 2008, said today he would back Mitt Romney in 2012.
“Mitt Romney understands that the private sector is the source of economic growth and job creation,” said Griffin, chief executive of the $11 billion Citadel LLC, in an e-mailed statement. “His ideas can help get America’s economy moving again and start putting people back to work.”
Romney, a former Massachusetts governor who previously led the Boston-based private equity firm Bain Capital LLC, spoke to Citadel employees in Chicago last week.
Griffin raised between $50,000 and $100,000 each for Obama and his Republican opponent in 2008, Arizona Senator John McCain. He was the only one to raise at least $50,000 for both major parties’ nominees, according to Public Citizen, a Washington-based group that supports stronger campaign finance laws.
He also contributed to both nominees, as well to two other 2008 presidential candidates, Romney and former Senator Chris Dodd, a Connecticut Democrat who was chairman of the Banking Committee, Federal Election Commission reports show.
In April 2009, Griffin described the U.S. government’s role in the financial system as “frightening” at a conference. He called on the government to quickly act to balance the federal budget lest the U.S. reach a “point of no return” at a separate conference in May.
“The frustration with the Obama administration is that we have taken the spending levels of the Bush era and multiplied them,” Griffin said at the May gathering.
This year, he gave $300,000 to American Crossroads, the political action committee advised by Karl Rove, the chief political aide to then-President George W. Bush. Griffin donated $250,000 last year. American Crossroads reported spending $21 million in 2010 to help elect Republican congressional candidates.
Griffin also donated $650,000 to the Republican Governors Association last year and $500,000 this year.
Romney has benefited from some dissatisfaction on Wall Street toward Obama, who signed new banking regulations last year. Romney raised $3.6 million through Sept. 30 from securities and investment industry employees and their families, more than double the $1.6 million taken in by Obama, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a Washington-based research group.
Four years ago, Obama raised $16 million from Wall Street. Romney, who dropped out of the Republican race on Feb. 7, 2008, collected $5 million.
--Editors: Justin Blum, Laurie Asseo
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