Person

Sandor Straus

Sandor Straus is a California-based mathematician and financial investment consultant who is a major donor to Democratic Party candidates and affiliated organizations in the United States. [1] A former campaigner for the left-wing insurgent 1968 Presidential candidacy of U.S. Sen. Eugene McCarthy (D-MN), Straus is also a major contributor to progressive-left immigration, social policy, and environmental organizations. [2]

Background

Sandor Straus met his wife, Faye, while campaigning for Senator Eugene McCarthy’s (D-MN) bid for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1968. Sandor received a Ph.D. in mathematics from the University of California, Berkeley, going on to teach mathematics and computer science at NYU Stony Brook. Sandor later became involved in financial modeling and financial investments in the 1980s with Renaissance Technologies, a hedge fund known for its founder James Simons who himself is renowned for his contributions to the mathematical modeling of investments. [3] [4]

While employed for Renaissance, Straus worked at the Medallion Fund, Renaissance’s most profitable portfolio and a fund known for having one of the best records in investing history. [5] While at Medallion, Straus helped guide the fund out of a series of losses during the 1980s and eventually helped to create investment returns of 39.4 percent in 1991, 34 percent in 1992, and 39.1 percent in 1993. [6] Straus was crucial to the extraordinary success of Medallion Fund for his work compiling, sorting, and refining meticulously-aggregated historical financial data used by innovative computer modeling to predict stock and market commodity movements. [7] [8]

Straus later cofounded his own investment firms and as of January 2020 was the managing member of the hedge fund management firm Tigmera, LLC. [9] [10]

Activities

Candidate contributions

Straus was listed as one of the top 100 highest spending donors to political candidates and political action committees in the United States in 2014, giving $361,000 exclusively to Democrats and Democratic Party-aligned PACs. [11]

Straus has donated to hundreds of Democratic Party candidates for federal offices, including Presidential candidates Senator John Kerry (D-MA), Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), President Barack Obama, and Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT). but did not donate directly to 2016 presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. [12] Straus reportedly did contribute to American Bridge 21st Century, the opposition research super-PAC founded by Clinton supporter David Brock, in 2015. [13]

Democracy Alliance

Straus’ political donations extend beyond contributing directly to candidates and PACs. Straus is reportedly a member of the Democracy Alliance, a “dark money” left-leaning group of wealthy donors organized to coordinate contributions to progressive-left candidates and causes, and to oppose the Trump administration. [14] [15] [16] [17] Members of Democracy Alliance commit a minimum of $200,000 annually to causes endorsed by the group. [18] The Democracy Alliance reportedly has spent $1.83 billion on left-of-center candidates and causes over the past 15 years. [19]

In addition to his financial contributions, Straus has participated in Democracy Alliance conferences as a panelist and speaker. [20]

Nonprofit organizations

Straus and his wife, Faye, founded and fund the Firedoll Foundation through the Straus Family Trust. [21] The Firedoll Foundation donates to charitable community and health organizations as well as left-leaning social and environmental groups, and far-left Middle East policy organizations, including those that support the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions campaign to delegitimize the State of Israel. [22] In addition to funding the Firedoll Foundation, the Straus Family Trust donates to the Bob Woodruff Foundation, a veterans’ organization supported primarily by left-leaning donors. [23]

Straus is a board member for the nonprofit Renaissance Entrepreneurship Center, a small business incubator which seeks to assist “socially and economically diverse women and men, and thereby strengthen our communities through the creation of sustainable new businesses, new jobs, and the promotion of financial self-sufficiency.” [24]

Straus is also a board member for the conservationist Marine Mammal Center[25] and serves on the board of the federally-funded Mathematical Sciences Research Institute. [26]

References

  1. Marinucci, Carla. “S.F. billionaire Tom Steyer ranks at top of political donors”. San Francisco Gate.  August 8, 2014. Accessed January 27, 2020. https://www.sfgate.com/politics/article/S-F-billionaire-Tom-Steyer-ranks-at-top-of-5675351.php ^
  2. Firedoll Foundation, Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax (Form 990), 2016, Part XV. https://apps.irs.gov/pub/epostcard/cor/943301999_201705_990PF_2018053115359774.pdf ^
  3. Firedoll Foundation. Firedoll.org. “About us”. Accessed January 27, 2020. http://www.firedoll.org/about-us ^
  4. Zuckerman, Gregory. “The Making of the World’s Greatest Investor”. Wall Street Journal. November 2, 2019. Accessed January 28, 2020. https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-making-of-the-worlds-greatest-investor-11572667202 ^
  5. Mider, Zachary and Richard Rubin. “Renaissance Said Probed by Senate Panel on Tax Maneuver.” Bloomberg. July 12, 2014. Accessed January 29, 2020.. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2014-07-12/renaissance-said-probed-by-senate-panel-on-tax-maneuver ^
  6. “Pure Alpha: Story of Renaissance Technologies.” LinkedIn. Accessed November 9, 2019. https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/20141117150538-17004994-pure-alpha-story-of-renaissance-technologies. ^
  7. Blagojevic, Branko. “How Renaissance Technologies Solved the Market: Part 1 — Pipeline”. Medium. November 18, 2019. Accessed January 27, 2020. https://medium.com/ml-everything/how-renaissance-technologies-solved-the-market-part-1-2814eb271dc3 ^
  8. Zuckerman, Gregory. “The Making of the World’s Greatest Investor”. Wall Street Journal. November 2, 2019. Accessed January 28, 2020. https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-making-of-the-worlds-greatest-investor-11572667202 ^
  9. LinkedIn. Linkedin.com. “Sander Strauss”. Accessed January 27, 2020. https://www.linkedin.com/in/sandor-straus-51444b8b ^
  10. Mathematical Sciences Research Institute. Msri. “About Us. “Governance Committees”. “Board Of Trustees”. Accessed January 27, 2020. https://www.msri.org/people/212 ^
  11. Marinucci, Carla. “S.F. billionaire Tom Steyer ranks at top of political donors”. San Francisco Gate.  August 8, 2014. Accessed January 27, 2020.  https://www.sfgate.com/politics/article/S-F-billionaire-Tom-Steyer-ranks-at-top-of-5675351.php ^
  12. Center for Responsive Politics. Opensecrets.org. “Politicians & Elections”. “Donor Lookup”. “Sandor Straus”. Accessed January 27, 2020. https://www.opensecrets.org/donor-lookup/results?name=Sandor+Straus&page=7 ^
  13. Allison, Bill. “Some big Obama donors slow to warm to Clinton”. Atlanta Constitution Journal. April 15, 2016. Accessed January 27, 2020. https://www.ajc.com/news/some-big-obama-donors-slow-warm-clinton/GXufKEeCp0ebQXRA5HMcoI/ ^
  14. Prokop, Andrew. “The Democracy Alliance: How a secretive group of donors helps set the progressive agenda”. Vox. November 24, 2014. Accessed January 27, 2020. https://www.vox.com/2014/11/24/7274819/democracy-alliance ^
  15. Ballotpedia.org. “Democracy Alliance”. Accessed January 27, 2020. https://ballotpedia.org/Democracy_Alliance ^
  16. Vogel, Kennth P. “’Irony, but it’s not hypocrisy’”. Politico. April 30, 2014. Accessed January 27, 2020. https://www.politico.com/story/2014/04/big-donor-secrecy-campaigns-fundraising-democrats-106186 ^
  17. Crabtree, Susan. “Dems’ ‘Dark Money’ Disconnect: Groups Mum on Disclosure”. Real Clear Politics. May 8, 2019. Accessed January 27, 2020. https://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2019/05/08/dems_dark_money_disconnect_groups_mum_on_disclosure__140274.html ^
  18. Vogel, Kenneth P.; Mahoney, Brian. “Big Labor targets Steyer, Soros in massive 2016 fundraising effort”. Politico. June 26, 2015. Accessed January 27, 2020. https://www.politico.com/story/2015/06/big-labor-donors-george-soros-tom-steyer-119454 ^
  19. Crabtree, Susan. “Dems’ ‘Dark Money’ Disconnect: Groups Mum on Disclosure”. Real Clear Politics. May 8, 2019. Accessed January 27, 2020https://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2019/05/08/dems_dark_money_disconnect_groups_mum_on_disclosure__140274.html ^
  20. Democracy Alliance 2015 conference agenda. Images. Politico.com. Accessed January 27, 2020.  http://images.politico.com/global/2015/04/13/da_confagenda-final_0412-1515.pdf ^
  21. Firedoll Foundation. Firedoll.org. “About us”. Accessed January 27, 2020.  http://www.firedoll.org/about-us ^
  22. “Uncovering the Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) Funding Network.” Ngomonitor. May 1, 2016. Accessed February 23, 2018. https://www.ngo-monitor.org/reports/uncovering-the-jvp-funding-network/ ^
  23. Bob Woodruff Foundation. Bobwoodruff.org. Annual Report 2018.  “Benefactors Circle”. Page 27. Accessed January 27, 2020. https://bobwoodrufffoundation.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/BWF-Annual-Report-LOW-RES-.pdf ^
  24. Renaissance Entrepreneurship Center. Rencenter.org. “About”. “Mission & History”. Accessed January 27, 2020.  https://www.rencenter.org/mission-history/ ^
  25. The Marine Mammal Center. Marinemammalcenter,org. “About Us”. “Board of Directors and Leadership Team”. Accessed January 27, 2020. https://www.marinemammalcenter.org/about-us/organization-information/board-of-directors/ ^
  26. Mathematical Sciences Research Institute. Msri. “About Us. “Governance Committees”. “Board of Trustees”. Accessed January 27, 2020. https://www.msri.org/people/212 ^

Connected Organizations

  1. Center for Community Change (CCC) Action (Non-profit)
    Funder
  2. Democracy Alliance Conferences (Other Group)
    Participant, Spring 2015; Spring 2016; Fall 2016; Fall 2017; Fall 2018
  3. Firedoll Foundation (Non-profit)
    Co-Founder
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