The Money

In the summer, the big donor money raising for candidates is a meet and greet event at houses located in vacation spots. Today there is a big fundraiser for Donald Trump in Southampton put on by Steve Ross. The Washington Post reported that tickets are priced at $100,000 for a photo opportunity and lunch, and $250,000 for the package that includes the roundtable discussion.

I never thought about Steve Ross’s political affiliations until today. He is a self-made real estate developer who has been philanthropic, owns a large chunk of the Miami Dolphins and sits at the head of his company Related that just built (and owns) Hudson Yards. He is worth about $7b.

He has invested in a variety of companies including Equinox (that includes Soul Cycle), David Chang’s food empire, Christina Tosi’s Milk Bar, Resy (bought by AMEX) and others. You can’t help but wonder if there will be a backlash from consumers and patrons when they realize that Ross is an investor in companies that they frequent. Equinox already came out with a statement.

Will this look like the quick derailment of the Whitney’s board member Warren Kanders, who was forced to resign as artists started pulling out of the Biennial. Even institutions that are now falling in line deciding to separate themselves from the Sackler Family who is under major scrutinization for creating the opiate epidemic.

Times have changed particularly for the millennials and Gen Z. Nothing is secret and soon there will be an article posted about every single investment that Steve Ross has made. What the backlash will be is yet to be determined.

I got an email from an investor today who wanted to know if entrepreneurs cared where their cash came from if they found out that it was a Russian Oligarch or a family that was involved with the Nazis years before. I don’t know about anyone else but I certainly do. I wouldn’t want to be in bed with them. Do I want to be in bed with a Trump supporter who is raising money for him….probably not.

Comments (Archived):

  1. pointsnfigures

    That’s a different kind of discrimination, and it’s toxic. It’s also toxic when brands bring politics into their messaging and the workplace. See Gillette, just lost $8B because of it. Or ESPN or any number of brands/businesses. In America, we celebrate freedom. Freedom of choice. The mobs that are targeting Ross are eliminating his choice through force. When a US Congressman publishes the names of people in his district that wrote checks to a political opponent (Trump), we are entering dangerous ground. Rand Paul lost part of a lung because he was attacked by and Steve Scalise was shot and almost killed by a Bernie Sanders supporter who was riled up by Senator Dick Durbin’s rhetoric. His editorial is worth reading:…What is happening today is people are losing jobs and ability to earn a living because of their political beliefs. This New Fascism crops up in many places. I had an acquaintance leave a high paying position with a firm simply because he was Republican and they felt it was impinging the firm’s ability to do business since many of their customers were left wing Democrats.When I was raising my fund, I had a guy commit-and then offered to raise more money as long as he could be a silent partner in the GP. I agreed and gave him the legal docs to sign. When he found out I was a Republican he said he couldn’t do business with Republicans. It’s a different kind of Jim Crow. But, it’s still discrimination. Ironically, when I invest I don’t really care about anyone’s politics. I invested in, which was started by the Obama tech team. I think Obama was a horrible President, and disagree pretty strongly with his political views and his view of the world, but I believed in the people that started public good in that they could build a great company and execute. I know they disagree with me politically, but who cares?In NYC, they beat a person on the street wearing a Make America Great Again Hat. He might lose an eye. Imagine if it was an Obama hat and that person was beaten on the streets for exercising their free speech rights.The day I don’t work with someone because of politics, or don’t help someone because of politics, or be nice to someone because of politics is the day I die as a person.

    1. awaldstein

      Disagree.Absolutely.If you believe that Trump is a fascist and racist slur on humanity and the world, it is just fine and even ethical to not deal with money or people who support his policies.That is my right if not my responsibility.I have conservative friends. It is their ethics that determines whether that friendship sticks.

      1. pointsnfigures

        Arnie, this is a very different kind of discrimination. It is dangerous. When Universal Pictures can make a movie about hunting political opponents for sport, we are entering a darker phase. Social media allows us to disengage and dehumanize people, objectify them. When people become objects instead of people, it allows dark forces to grab power, and terrible things can happen. If we don’t act to stop this now, it’s not going to be pretty for anyone.If every political candidate on the other side of the aisle is “fascist” or “racist”-that’s not disagreeing. That’s the road to turning them into objects.Here is one example:…We can play tit for tat all day long-but the way discourse is has to stop on both sides because it will become very dangerous.

        1. awaldstein

          I think you need to draw a finer line.It is not about politics it is about belief systems wrapped in politics.Trump and a large number of Republicans are to me the enemy of mankind as I define it. Period. Bad unethical dangerous people in power.I want nothing to do with the supply chain that supports those ideas and that power.That is not discrimination but choice.Ex–60% of all 18 year olds are people of color of some sort. You might say that it is politically expedient for the Republicans to support Gerrymandering and voter suppression or else they are gone.I say nope–it is ethically wrong to stand in the way of representation.That is systemic racism in my book and if that is adopted politically than that is the creed of the party.

          1. JLM

            .The racial mix of 18 year and younger in the USA is:Non-Hispanic black: 15%, very stableHispanic origin: 25%, up from 17% in 2000Non-Hispanic white: 51%, down from 61% in 2000None of these groups is particularly homogeneous meaning they are complex and diverse when gauged by “thought.”A fourth generation Hispanic in Texas is vastly different than a second generation Cuban in Miami.There is little linkage between blacks and Hispanics on important issues — as an example gay rights and immigration. Mayor Pete will not get a single black vote for reasons that have to do with the different views of the “civil rights” of these disparate groups.Suggesting that there is a “wave” of consistent thought to ride in the future is simply not true.Further, those younger than 30 continue to be the worst group of voters by participation proven by primary contest voter rolls and following elections. The gray hair in the USA votes and the gray hair is living longer and longer.The next census is going to begin to strip electoral votes from places like Illinois and New York. The electorate is mobile.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

      2. Gotham Gal

        I’m with Andrew

        1. pointsnfigures

          So, you will persecute/discriminate/marginalize/won’t do business with me simply for being Republican?

          1. LE

            The WSJ auto columnist (Dan Neil) seems to always make a point when doing a Porsche review to point out affiliations between Porsche’s founder and roots and the Nazis. Here is one such example and I’ve screen clipped the opening paragraph in case it is paywalled at the bottom:…This is not the first time he’s done this either. It seems that he has a hard time not slamming the company on this point (and attempting in my opinion to kill the brand and the brand buzz) by mentioning something which has zero relevance today. I have another Porsche on order. Reading what he said (even though I know it to be true) did not make me feel that good. But there is ZERO chance I am going to not take delivery on the car. To do so would mean not only do I have to fully vet everything and everyone I deal with but it simply not the way I feel about things to begin with. All the employees of the business that Ross invests in have nothing at all to do with how he makes or spends his money. I am sure he did many undesirable things to make his fortune by the way. I got a call once to help Elliott Spitzer post scandal. No issue at all I will be glad to have you as a customer (and I don’t need the business either).The question is where do you draw the line with this? I had friends growing up whose parents would not buy any German made car. My Dad (I will not repeat again his history) had ZERO issue with this at all. That is it was fine to buy German and he liked all the German cars I purchased.Where is the line drawn with this is the question.You know what we need we need to simply tag everyone and every single business so that people know exactly who they are dealing with and their beliefs. Similar to putting jewish stars on homes during the war. And then we can see what happens. https://uploads.disquscdn.c

          2. pointsnfigures

            Do we not go to Southern states because there used to be slave holders there? At what point are the sins of the father/mother not the sins of the son and daughter? My friend Walt Ehlers stormed Omaha in the first wave. Later in his life, he met a machine gunner who was working the machine gun on the beach he stormed. He said the machine gunner told him tears were streaming down his face as he massacred the Americans trying to take the beach. Walt and him became friends until the man passed away. Do we avoid buying Mitsubishi’s because they made arms for the Japanese? On and on it goes. It’s not 1960 in America anymore, but many people don’t want to get past that. There is a thing in many religions called forgiveness. People ought to try it. Never forget, no doubt. But forgive. Easy to type, hard to do.

          3. awaldstein

            you are smarter than this my friend.not about germany and the holocaust and cars.about today and now and surprise me with this one.

          4. LE

            Ok so are you going to quit Equinox and for that matter anything affiliated with Stephen Ross? This is not a challenge I am curious to what extent this rises to that level.

          5. LE

            To me it’s not even needed (for this story) to hear that tears streamed down his face either. He was in the armed forces and that is what is needed people who follow legitimate orders in battle with only rare exceptions.My Dad (jewish for anyone just reading this comment) was in a forced labor camp. I don’t know in particular what they produced there (never asked him nor did he say) but pretty good chance it was things which supported the war effort of Germany. If he hadn’t done that I wouldn’t be here now nor would my sisters. So sure people can make statements about their values and what they would do when they are not confronted with something that actually impacts them in a less than minor way.I have a customer that I make $10 per year from that runs a quasi hate site in Canada. It’s a political party. I could easily terminate them and actually was asked to do so back when the whole Cloudflare thing came up. A few people wrote out of nowhere trying to take advantage of some wave of public opinion. I didn’t do it. Even though they say shit about jews and so on. Why? Nobody is going to force me into a corner in the court of public opinion. That said if I stood to loose a great deal of business and some important customer asked me to do so I’d probably can the account. I am practical that way.

          6. McCarty

            I’m a POC lesbian and yes, I try very hard not to do business with Republicans. Republicans have actively tried to roll back my rights in myriad ways. Why should they get my business?

        2. LE

          Who is Andrew?

      3. JLM

        .Inarticulate people who are unable to intelligently discuss complex issues resort to labels like “racist,” “fascist,” or “white supremacist.”Those words work for folks who are lazy and don’t want to delve into policy, complexity, and nuance. Policy, complexity, and nuance require more work than saying, “I hate Trump and Trump supporters.”Trump’s greatest transgression? Winning the election.Words like fascism have complex meanings that even political scientists are unable to agree upon. At the core of fascism is control by a single party dedicated to authoritarian, militaristic ultranationalism as a means of creating a state run economy and the mobilization of society to accomplish the objectives of the state — most commonly in the making of war on one’s neighbors.Mussolini is the poster child for fascism. He marshaled Italian society, created a militaristic government, and invaded Ethiopia. He ended up hanging upside down from a light stanchion after being executed by a firing squad. Sic semper tyrannis.BTW, folks fail to recall that Benny Mussolini was the Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Italy from 1922-1943 and the Duce from 1919 until he was killed in April 1945.America with its Constitutional representative republic, “united” several states, free elections, three-legged stool of equal branches, free market economy, capitalist economic system, and low level of participation in the military is as far as one could get from a fascist state.President Trump — who is barely even a Republican — is unable to even think about the level of dictatorial control that would even get one a whiff of fascism.If one were to focus on policy, rather than self-satisfying name calling, it would be perfectly fine to take issue with individual policies. It is not unfair to suggest that the USA and Pres Trump may be advancing protectionist and interventionist economic policies, as an example. Nobody really thinks that any American President can achieve anything even remotely like that without the cooperation of Congress because we are a nation of laws, not men.Another example is the passage of the First Step Act, judicial reform that Pres Trump signaled he would support, reform that was embraced by liberal Senators, and judicial reform that had a direct impact on the racial imbalance of specific crimes (e.g. the imbalance between crack v cocaine Federal sentencing) that eluded Geo HW Bush, Bill Clinton, Geo W Bush, and Barack Obama.It is hard to put a label of “racist” on a President who gets that kind of elusive, once-every-half-century legislation across the finish line. Interesting that much of what the First Step Act undoes is years and years of crime bills championed and delivered by Sen Joe Biden.What is funny is that pejoratives have lost their sting. They have backfired. They stand for the low intelligence and inferior critical thinking of the spewer rather than stinging the target. The people are not stupid. They get this. It will show up at the ballot box.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

    2. lauraglu

      You mean like the 13 year old kid with the cracked skull for refusing to remove his hat?You can’t have choice one way and not the other. It is my choice to not support hateful, racist, homophobic people.

      1. JLM

        .There is no form of violence that advances the resolution of real issues in society whether it comes from the Proud Boys or Antifa — two domestic terrorist organizations based solely on their resorting to violence at every public gathering.Mindless comparisons of beatings delivered by either “side” against the other “side” for wearing a hat are proof of the low plane of intellectual engagement upon which the debate is based. Worse, they provide support and justification for things that are beyond the pale.One has to ask — what idiot in Charlottesville or Portland issued a permit for Antifa and the Proud Boys to be on their streets at the same time? While it might be tempting to lay this at the feet of a party affiliation to score cheap points — both cities have a Dem leadership — it is really just garden variety stupidity of the “don’t play with gasoline and matches” genre.Are these cities so poorly led as to be unable to see the creation of a tinderbox with their own hands? People forget that the C’ville mess was created by an effort to relocate a statue of Rob’t E Lee in a public park.What should be pushing and shoving against each other are ideas. When ideas wrestle, the result is a better idea.A perfect example of that is the First Step legislation that delivered on an unattainable objective of justice reform that eluded every Congress and White House since Geo HW Bush. None of GHW Bush, Bill Clinton, Geo W Bush, Barack H Obama were able to muster the leadership to deliver on these reforms.President Trump did and earned the fleeting praise and support of folks like Sens Booker and Harris.Ideas. That’s where the action is amongst the thinkers. Violence that’s where the action is amongst the idiotic.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

    3. Kirsten Lambertsen

      You’ve defined “toxic” here as “lowers profits.” You’re saying you don’t care who you do business with as long as it’s going to make you money?Last time I checked, freedom of choice included my choice to do business with whomever I choose. I mean, isn’t that the market at work?Of course, since the beginning of the country, people have lost jobs and the ability to earn a living because of the color of their skin, their gender, their sexual orientation, etc., etc. That’s *actual* discrimination.It’s literally *not* discrimination to not do business with someone whose values don’t align with your own. To conflate exercising that choice with physical violence feels a lot like gaslighting. I’d argue that doing business with anybody, as long as it will make you money, is immoral and leads to very bad things. I have no doubt we’ll see some of those very bad things in the realm of crypto in the near future.Your whole premise is out of whack, anyway. People who are boycotting Trump donors don’t just disagree with those donors politics. They view support of Trump at this point as evidence of extremely poor judgment at best and an amoral character at worst.

    4. Kirsten Lambertsen

      By the way, you really need to rethink comparing anything in your life to Jim Crow laws.

  2. awaldstein

    Been on my mind.Sitting in Equinox post my workout and pondering that.I believe that indeed we should support, use, take capital from people who are not supporting the things we hate.That is our right if not responsibility.

  3. Semil Shah

    On the point in your last paragraph, asking “where the $ comes from” could be a neverending chase. What if a bank invests in a fund, and that bank has 30,000 clients, and one of them happens to be such a family generations removed? The Ross situation is more public and direct, but that aside….

    1. JLM

      .More to the point, if one is using public pension fund money — meaning sources like the Teachers Retirement System of Texas or UTIMCO (The University of Texas Investment Management Company) — and those LPs get a whiff of such discriminatory behavior, the feathers are going to hit the fan. Big Time.These pension funds cannot, by law, engage in any form of discrimination. Period.The BDS movement — the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement — against Israel provides excellent fodder to understand how this debate will go.The BDS movement is a Palestinian-led and sympathetic campaign to punish Israel for alleged oppression of Palestinians by boycotting Israeli interests, by divesting of investments that have any link to Israel, and an attempt to sanction Israel through such efforts as The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel.While there is a worthy discussion to be had as to how the Palestinians and Israelis live together, this is simply modern anti-Semitism writ large. It is the language of the gas chambers. It fails to embrace the idea of a political debate that includes rocketing innocent civilians.It would be difficult to have a productive relationship with Newark if they sent a few hundred rockets into Manhattan from time to time.The question is this — is this a form of discrimination that you can be proud of? If you say yes, then say it aloud and stand behind it.There is no form of discrimination that serves the good.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

    2. Gotham Gal

      To me that is harder to distinguish. It’s the one check that shouts possible issues

    3. LE

      This is only happening because it’s NYC related which is all self absorbed as both the media capital of the world as well as all things important. Otherwise if it happened in 9 out of 10 other cities (I guess there are always exceptions) it would not get any coverage or matter at all. I hope everyone realizes that. (A similar thing happens in Tech industry, entertainment and Hollywood that is anything related to those becomes more important than without those connections).You know what is super ironic and can’t be ignored about Trumps rise to power over the years? It’s because he was eaten up by the NY Tabloid press and other media. If he had built buildings anywhere else you’d almost certainly never have heard about him or care and he would not have gotten a reality tv show. Even if he did a casino in Atlantic City it would not matter without the NYC connection.I will tell you a story. Back in the 80’s I got a boatload of publicity after my small company was written about on the front page of the WSJ. After that everyone came out of the woodwork left and right as if I was anointed as important in some quantifiable way. WSJ actually at first turned down the story when I approached them myself. (So did a NYC book agent who laughed at what she (correctly) thought was a stupid idea). It was a publicity stunt and I knew that. What made the WSJ change their mind? I got it in a story in the local paper and then (get this) faxed the story (complete with a photo that appeared) to the WSJ. They then called. They figured the local paper had vetted the idea and it was worth talking about. How did I get the story in the local paper (and TV btw). I had it leaked to a reporter at a party where an employee (a nobody) was. That is exactly how I did that. And they bite on it.In the 70’s the hype on Trump was so intense you have no idea. I remember thinking at the time it was so high that I couldn’t even imagine what he would be doing in 20 years. It was as if the Beatles were playing Shea Stadium. Honestly it was that intense living through the Trump launch in the 70’s. All created by Trump with the help of the NY Media.(Note NY Media is doing the same as I predicted for AOC if she were in Columbus Ohio she would not have initials or any coverage…)

  4. JLM

    .”I never thought about Steve Ross’s political affiliations until today.”This says a lot as to from whence the problem comes. It’s all in your head. Before today, you didn’t take the time or energy to discriminate.Good luck with that.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

  5. LE

    You can’t help but wonder if there will be a backlash from consumers and patrons when they realize that Ross is an investor in companies that they frequent.Why does this all fall on Ross anyway? I mean I would expect that the NY Post or Daily News will be out with an entire set of photos of people who attended that party for the photo op. Then they can go down that rabbit hole and out anyone and everyone with some kind of connection to that event. Also the catering company, the people that did the flowers, the entertainment, the bartender the party planner… everyone. Then those vendors should not be used by anyone who has a party. A sign of solidarity for the cause.Business impact? Good luck with making a dent in the company. Very very generally outside of edge cases in NYC and SF most people even those who oppose and hate Trump are not going to stop patronizing this company.This has gotten totally nutty all the nut jobs are now out in force.

  6. Eric Woods

    What’s most interesting about the Ross and Castro imbroglios is the hypocrisy with which ‘freedom’ is thrown around. Supporting the political candidate of your choice is your right. Whether it’s time, talent or treasure, in America you are free to exercise that choice.Similarly, people are free to support businesses that align with their values. If a business, either directly or indirectly, is using your consumer dollars in ways that are not aligned with your values, your right is to spend your money elsewhere.When this information is public, (like FEC data and who hosts campaign fundraisers) you are able to make better choices because you’re better informed.It seems that certain people are advocating for the first freedom while condemning the second.As some say, ‘Your slip is showing’.

  7. jason wright

    At scale financial capital has always been about politics in one way or another.Is it any great surprise that Ross, a macro New York property developer, has a positive relationship with Trump, a New York property developer?At this moment in time i align my consuming habits more with ethical environmentalism that politics.

  8. Dhysmusic

    Proper PlanningPreventsPoverty