Billionaire hedge funder and South Florida real estate investor Ken Griffin yanked his support for Gov. Ron DeSantis’ bid for the White House.
Griffin, a major GOP donor, so far isn’t enamored with any of the Republican presidential candidates, opting to stay “on the sidelines as to who to support in this election cycle,” he said in an interview with CNBC. This includes pulling his support for DeSantis, after originally backing the governor. Though his first term was “phenomenal,” DeSantis’ battle with Disney is “pointless,” Griffin told the news channel.
“It doesn’t reflect well on the ethos of Florida,” he said.
The Disney-DeSantis duel is over the theme parks company’s stance against Florida’s so-called “Don’t Say Gay” law that muzzled discussions about gender affirming identity and sexual orientation in public schools. In response, DeSantis and his allies in the state legislature this year stripped Disney from control of a special taxing district that gave the company autonomy over its Orlando-area theme parks. The law allowed for DeSantis to appoint the board members. Disney and DeSantis are now battling it out in court.
Griffin, who moved his Citadel and Citadel Securities’ headquarters to Miami’s Brickell from Chicago, has been building a real estate kingdom in South Florida valued at more than $1 billion. In July, he paid $83 million for an office building at 125 Worth Avenue in Palm Beach, and also took an ownership stake in the former Neiman Marcus department store building at 151 Worth Avenue.
The crown jewel of his empire was his $363 million purchase last year of a 2.5-acre bayfront development site at 1201 Brickell Bay Drive in Miami, where Citadel’s new headquarters is expected to be built. In the meantime, Griffin leased offices at Southeast Financial Center at 200 South Biscayne Boulevard in downtown Miami and at the 830 Brickell tower that’s under construction for his Citadel and Citadel Securities.
Griffin also set a record on the residential front, paying $106.9 million for Adrienne Arsht’s 4-acre waterfront estate at 3031 and 3115 Brickell Avenue in Miami’s Coconut Grove last fall. The deal marked the first time a Miami-Dade County residential deal topped the $100 million mark.
Now, as Griffin isn’t ready to throw his financial clout behind DeSantis or any other Republican running for the presidency, it could make a dent in candidates’ campaign coffers. Griffin, whose estimated net worth is roughly $35 billion, had shelled out over $100 million to state and federal candidates in last year’s midterms and $5 million in 2021 to a political action committee supporting DeSantis’ reelection as governor.
Instead of the current challengers to front-runner Donald Trump, Griffin has his own vision of whom he would prefer for the ballot.
“If I had my dream, we’d have a great Republican candidate in the primary who was younger, of a different generation, with a different tone for America. And we’d have a younger person on the Democratic side in the primary,” he told CNBC. “We’d have a debate around ideas and principles and policies to make this a great nation. We’re not having that dialogue right now.”
— Lidia Dinkova