Being a billionaire certainly does not disqualify one from having success, or at least having in impact, in the sport of politics. Keep in mind, we’re not talking writing-checks-to-candidates politics, as played by the likes of Sheldon Adelson (Newt Gingrich), Foster Friess (Rick Santorum), and John Paulson (Mitt Romney). Who cares about those billionaire, armchair wannabe’s? Let’s focus instead on the real deals; the ones who go out among the folks; pressing their flesh, kissing their babies, having people scream nasty epithets at them, getting thrown in prison by their opponents, and even getting shot and killed.
Last year IBNLive.com ran this slide show Top 10 Billionaire Politicians.
Here are a few more billionaire-politicians who could easily have made the list, and at least they deserve an honorable (or dishonorable) mention.
Ross Perot Debates Bush Sr. and Clinton – - Image Source Gallery M
Ross Perot is a glaring omission from the IBNLive list. He ran for President twice, in 1992 and 1996. At one point in 1992, when he was still an “undeclared candidate” he led both Bill Clinton and George Bush Sr. in the polls. In that same year, he collected 19,660,450 votes , running as the candidate of The Reform Party. His candidacy has frequently been credited with causing Bush Sr.’s defeat, however, that claim is disputed by Joshua Leinsdorf. He writes
Did Perot defeat Bush? First, look at the turnout. Perot got 19,660,450 votes. The total turnout was more than 13 million higher than in 1988. So, even though Perot got a lot of votes, 13 million of those voters didn’t vote in 1988. Clinton ran 3.1 million votes ahead of Dukakis, but Bush received 9.7 million fewer votes than four years earlier. The two party vote fell by 7 million. So, Perot only took 7 million votes from the two parties combined. If Perot had not been in the race, would those 7 million Perot voters who voted for Bush and Dukakis in 1988 have voted for Bush by a sufficient margin for him to overcome Clinton’s 3.1 million vote lead. Those 7 million Perot voters would have had to favor Bush over Clinton by 5 to 2. Or, even if all 19.6 million Perot voters had voted for one of the major party candidates, they would have had to favor Bush by a 58% to 42% margin to overcome clinton’s lead and tie the race. Was this likely in view of the fact that the other 84 million voters were favoring Clinton by 7%, 53.5% to Bush’s 46.5%?
While Michael Bloomberg is the first billionaire to be elected Mayor of New York, he’s not the first to try. In 1989 Rudy Giuliani (not a billionaire) ran for Mayor and lost, to David Dinkins. Giuliani did manage to defeat Billionaire Ronald Lauder in the Republican primary. In his unsuccessful bid for the GOP nomination, Lauder spent $12 million trying to convince the voters that he was “the real Republican”. That bought him 36,905 votes ($350 per vote) which weren’t enough to defeat Giuliani in the primary. Giuliani got 75,520 votes. Four years later, Giuliani did finally win the New York Mayoral election.
Bidzina was born in the former Soviet Republic of Georgia. In 1986 he moved to Russia and made $billions there. Last October he announced that he was going to form an opposition party to challenge President Mikheil Saakashvili. A few days later he was stripped of his Georgian citizenship, which had been granted to him in 2004. The reason why his citizenship was revoked, allegedly had to do with the fact that Ivanishvili was also a French citizen, and Georgian law prohibits dual citizenship. It should be noted though, Ivanishvili became a French citizen in March of 2010, and the Georgian authorities did not revoke his citizenship until a week after he announced that he was forming a new party to oppose them. With or without his Georgian Citizenship, Ivanishvili is moving ahead with his effort to oppose the existing Georgian government.
Read more about Ivanishvili coalition
On March 4, in neighboring Russia, folks will go to the polls to elect their president. Most of them will probably not vote for Billionaire Mikhael Prokhorov, owner of the New Jersey Nets (NBA). As Dom Cosentino writing in Deadspin.com points out,
The New York Times today strains really, really hard to portray New Jersey Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov as a serious candidate for the Russian presidency. Never mind that Prokhorov is polling around 5 percent, or that democracy in Russia is about as real as Vladimir Putin’s collection of scuba diving videos.
When Prokhorov first announced his candidacy Billionairechroncles.net noted that nobody is quite sure what’s up with Prokhorov’s campaign. Is he serious about taking on Putin, or is he just trying dilute support from what little real opposition Putin might have?
It doesn’t matter. He seems to have about as much chance of being elected President of Russia (at least this year) as his Nets have, of winning the NBA championship. (somewhere between slim and none)
Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari also appears to have “done all right for himself.”
The Daily Telegraph reported
Pakistan’s state anti-corruption body claims he has amassed a property empire worth almost £1 billion, with a chateau in France, homes in Britain, Spain and Florida, and bank accounts in Switzerland.
Former Iranian president, Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani’s political fortune might be on the decline, but at one time his net worth was estimated to be in excess of of $1billion. In 2003, Forbes wrote this about him.
He played it smart, aligning himself in the 1960s with factions led by Ayatollah Khomeini, then becoming the go-to guy after the revolution. A hard-liner ideologically, Rafsanjani nonetheless has a pragmatic streak. He convinced Khomeini to end the Iran-Iraq war and broke Iran’s international isolation by establishing trade relations with the Soviet Union, China, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. In the 1990s he restarted Iran’s nuclear program. He is also the father of Iran’s “privatization” program. During his presidency the stock market was revived, some government companies were sold to insiders, foreign trade was liberalized and the oil sector was opened up to private companies. Most of the good properties and contracts, say dissident members of Iran’s Chamber of Commerce, ended up in the hands of mullahs, their associates, and, not least, Rafsanjani’s own family, who rose from modest origins as small-scale pistachio farmers.
Last month his daughter Faezeh Hashemi Rafsanjani, was convicted of “making propaganda against the ruling system”. According to The Guardian
She fell foul of the Iranian authorities after the disputed presidential elections in 2009 when she publicly supported opposition candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi and later participated in popular protests against the vote’s results. At the time, she was briefly arrested in two separate occasions and barred from leaving the country.
Her conviction is believed to be the result of an interview she gave to an opposition website, Roozonline, in which she blamed regime supporters for harassing her in public.
Hashemi’s criticism of the regime in recent years has led to an uproar among conservatives who believe that – as the daughter of a leading politician – she should back the official line,
and not that of the opposition Green movement which the authorities now refer to as the “sedition”.
Last February, when Egypt’s Hosni Mubarack fell from grace ABC reported
Newly deposed Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and his family have a fortune of $1 billion to $5 billion stashed in foreign banks, according to U.S. intelligence estimates — a significantly lower figure than most recent estimates of the wealth accumulated by Mubarak during his 30 years in power.
Some experts have estimated that the Mubarak family has a net worth as high as $70 billion, while others have reported $40 billion, but U.S. intelligence sources told ABC News that the real number is probably much lower.
Then in May, Reuters reported that according to Mubarak’s lawyer, “his net worth was no more than $1 million, and that he had no assets overseas.” The extent or the former dictator’s wealth, or lack thereof, might be the least of his concerns now. The Globe and Mail reported this week.
The chief prosecutor in the trial of ousted Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak said Monday in his closing remarks that the former president should be given the death penalty for the killings of protesters in last year’s uprising.
Mustafa Suleiman said Mr. Mubarak, who ruled over the Arab world’s most populous country for nearly 30 years, clearly authorized use of live ammunition and a shoot-to-kill policy against peaceful protesters.
And of course last, but far from least, is our favorite billionaire politician, or I suppose we should say former billionaire politician, Momar Kadafi. Or is it Muammar Gadafi? Whatever, he was rich and powerful, and now he’s still dead.
How rich was he? The Chriistian Post reported last October that
Muammar Gaddafi, the infamous Libyan dictator, had managed to accrue an estimated $200 billion in assets during his lifetime. However, now that he’s gone, it will prove difficult to recover and distribute that money because a large part of it was in legitimate investments.
This estimate, although it cannot be truly confirmed for months, would have made Gaddafi the richest man in the world.
On a lighter note, Libyan national Ahmed Warfali claims that he has the bloody shirt worn by the Gaddafi when he was assasinitated, as well as his wedding ring. He’s willing to part with both for $2 million.