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The File on Citadel’s Ken Griffin

He’s the billionaire founder of the Chicago-based hedge fund Citadel. He’s also a philanthropist, a political player, a benefactor of the arts—and a person with a penchant for privacy. So who exactly is Kenneth Cordele Griffin? We scoured public documents, financial records, and other sources to come up with the answer

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Griffin has hedged his political bets, giving money to politicians on both sides of the aisle, including Representative Paul Ryan and Senator Tom Coburn, both Republicans, and the Democrats Rahm Emanuel (both for Congress and for mayor) and Senator Evan Bayh. Nonetheless, the preponderance of the donations has gone to Republicans. Federal and Illinois databases for political contributions contain 275 records for Ken and Anne Griffin, totaling $3,038,091. (The couple often split their political donations, each giving half on the same day.) In 2010, the Griffins’ donations increased in both frequency and amount, as well as taking a rightward turn. Their 65 donations last year, totaling $1,869,400, included $450,000 to Bill Brady’s gubernatorial campaign—all during October—and $500,000 to a right-leaning political action committee. In a 2007 article in Portfolio, Griffin denied any political aspirations of his own.

$500,000  The largest donation: In 2010, Ken gave $500,000 each to two different political action committees—on October 25th to American Crossroads, an organization, according to its website, “dedicated to renewing America’s commitment to individual liberty, limited government, [and] free enterprise” and on December 15th to Stand for Children Illinois, a lobbying group focused on issues related to public education.

$140,000 in October 2010 to Two Party System, a political action committee that fights “Illinois’ one-party system” by supporting the state campaigns of Republicans and independents

During the 2008 presidential election, Ken was a bundler for both Barack Obama and John McCain, according to OpenSecrets.org.

$2,000  The earliest donation in the databases: On June 12, 1998, Ken gave two separate $1,000 contributions to Daniel Inouye, the Democratic U.S. senator from Hawaii.

$200,000 to Rahm Emanuel’s mayoral campaign

$150,000 to Mayor Daley in 2006

During the 2010 elections for Illinois state legislative seats, the Griffins were the number one donors to Republicans, giving $445,000 according to the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform.

Ken gave $70,000 to Rod Blagojevich in 2002 and 2003.



A graph of Griffin's national committee donations

* cumulative totals for multiple years



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