Omeed Malik, CEO, Colombier Acquisition Corp at the New York Stock Exchange, June 17, 2021.
Robert F. Kennedy Jr., the anti-vaccine activist who’s now running for president, has another wealthy backer in his corner: veteran Wall Street executive Omeed Malik.
Last month, Malik took Kennedy to a swanky private dinner at the Bellagio in Las Vegas to rub elbows with an array of political power players, according to people familiar with the matter.
Attendees at the dinner, which coincided with the SCALE Global Business Summit, included former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, former Trump economic advisor Gary Cohn, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, ex-UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers and Democratic megadonor Marc Lasry, the people said.
Many of the attendees were listed as speakers at the summit. A spokeswoman for Cohn confirmed his attendance at the dinner and that the gathering included many of the speakers at the summit. Representatives for Kennedy, Clinton, Pompeo, Summers and Lasry did not return requests for comment about the dinner. A spokesperson for Johnson could not be reached.
While these people said Kennedy didn’t pitch himself as a candidate, his attendance at the dinner represents another way to beef up his presence in the political conversation despite having publicly pushed numerous conspiracy theories, including debunked takes on vaccines. The people declined to be named to in order to speak about private deliberations and conversations.
The election was nonetheless on attendees’ minds at the dinner. A person familiar with the matter said there were some, including Clinton, who suggested that President Joe Biden’s age could be a hurdle that he’ll need to shrug off to voters. Clinton also cheered on Biden’s tenure as president, another person said. She previously said at a Financial Times event in May that Biden’s “age is an issue. And people have every right to consider it.” Biden will turn 82 soon after next year’s general election, while former President Donald Trump will be 78 come November 2024.
Kennedy has also gained a little traction in polls pitting him against Biden in the Democratic primary race. A June Quinnipiac poll shows Biden with 70 % support among Democrats and Democratic-leaning voters, while Kennedy has 17% in approval among those same groups.
Name recognition is likely a part of that. Kennedy is the son of former Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, who was assassinated during his own presidential run in 1968, and the nephew of late President John F. Kennedy, who was shot dead in 1963.
Malik, meanwhile, joins other rich donors in their support for Kennedy. Venture capitalist David Sacks and fellow tech leader Chamath Palihapitiya hosted a fundraiser for Kennedy this month, according to a tweet by Palihapitiya. The tweet said that “turnout was amazing” and attendees were Democrats, Republicans and independents. The event raised approximately $500,000 for Kennedy’s campaign, according to another person with direct knowledge of the matter. Kennedy was also once a guest on Sacks and Palihapitiya’s podcast.
Billionaire Twitter owner Elon Musk hosted Kennedy in a recent Twitter Spaces. Malik joined the discussion. Musk said last year he was leaning toward backing Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis for president. He later hosted a glitchy Twitter Spaces for the Florida Republican when he announced his run for president.
Malik gears up to host fundraisers
Malik will also host a campaign fundraiser for Kennedy in the ritzy Hamptons in July, according to those with direct knowledge of the matter. CNBC has also reviewed an invitation to the Sag Harbor gathering. The invitation, which does not name Malik, says the event will feature cocktails, hors d’oeuvres and a dinner featuring a discussion with Kennedy.
Tickets for the gathering are going for $6,600, the max an individual donor can give directly to a campaign. Often, half goes toward a primary account and the other half goes toward a general election pool of funds.
A Malik-hosted Hamptons event for DeSantis is also in the works for July, according to one of the people.
A spokesman for the DeSantis campaign did not return a request for comment. Malik himself has donated to candidates on both sides of the aisle. He gave to DeSantis when he ran for reelection in 2022, as well as Biden’s 2020 campaign and with Donald Trump’s failed second run for the White House, according to data from the nonpartisan OpenSecrets.
Malik worked as a managing director at Bank of America until 2018 before a reported controversy that, according to the New York Post, led to an eight figure settlement with the firm that he won.
Malik has since created his own lane on Wall Street with two firms: 1789 Capital and Farvahar Partners.
The Post reported that Malik is launching a new fund through 1789 Capital called EIG — or entrepreneurship, innovation and growth entrepreneurship.
The paper said the $150 million fund is backed GOP megadonor Rebekah Mercer who helped finance Breitbart and later Cambridge Analytica, and former Republican Arizona Senate candidate Blake Masters who used to work for fellow Republican financier Peter Thiel.