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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, December 5, 2014 - Volume 42 Issue 49
The worst Gay rights advocate in the world: Paul Singer and the dark side of GOP Gay rights activism
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The worst Gay rights advocate in the world: Paul Singer and the dark side of GOP Gay rights activism

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Paul Singer is a big-money donor to marriage equality organizations, pouring more than $11 million dollars into the cause since 2001.

Paul Singer is also a 'vulture fund' manager who bases some of his operations in the Cayman Islands so he can evade U.S. taxes on his profits.

Singer is believed to be straight, but his son is Gay and was married in Massachusetts. Singer is also close to former RNC Chair Ken Mehlman - now openly Gay and a major Wall Street investment banker - and works closely with him to move his fellow Republicans to a more Gay-friendly orientation.

To that end, Singer invested $1.7 million to launch the American Unity PAC, which backs pro-Gay Republicans.

On the other hand, Singer is an ally of the notorious Koch brothers, and has given them huge sums to help fund their so-called 'dark money' projects, and their Tea Party group, the Club for Growth.

In fact, Singer has helped to fund many right-wing political projects including the Swift Boat ads smearing John Kerry during his 2004 run for the presidency and Karl Rove's Crossroads GPS. Singer also touted U.S. Representative Paul Ryan to be Mitt Romney's running mate in 2012. Dan Senor, then the GOP campaign's foreign policy staffer, now works for Singer at Elliott Management Corporation.

Singer's Elliott employees are among the top donors to U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell, U.S. Senator Marco Rubio, U.S. Representative Paul Ryan, and former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor.

Even worse than how Singer spends his money is how he makes it.

According to 'Forbes' magazine, Singer is worth $1.9 billion, and most of it comes from investing in so-called 'vulture funds.' In other words, Singer's companies buy up distressed securities at a big markdown, then sue to force the issuers to pay back full price - plus interest.

In 1996, for example, Elliott bought defaulted Peruvian debt for a reported $11.4 million. He then sued the Peruvian government to get the full face value of the bonds. In 1998, a U.S. court ruled that an investor could not buy debt with the sole purpose of suing the debtor, but that ruling was overturned in 2000, and Singer won a $58 million judgment.

Similarly, Singer bought $400 million worth of Republic of Congo bonds for only $10 million. After suing the country, he accepted a $127 million settlement.

Currently, Singer's NML Capital is shaking down Argentina in the same way it previously dealt with Peru. For a mere $48 million investment, Singer bought Argentine bonds with a face value of $630 million, during that country's financial crisis of 2001-2002.

With accrued interest, Singer's company estimates the value of the investment at $2.3 billion, which it is trying to force Argentina to pay. Other investors agreed to allow Argentina to restructure their debt, but Singer has been insisting that Argentina pay him the full amount.

Although Singer's piece amounts to only 7% of the total debt, he has sued to prevent Argentina from paying any of its more cooperative creditors until he gets everything he wants. The case is currently working its way through U.S. courts, but the Argentine government insists it will not pay Singer any more than it pays its other creditors.

Singer has been playing hardball, however. Last October, Singer's NML subsidiary impounded the Argentine Navy's ship Libertad in a Ghanaian port, and essentially held it for ransom for several weeks. The International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea later ruled the impoundment a violation of international law.

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