I'm A Former Goldman Partner, I'm A Hedge Fund Manager, I'm Wealthy: The Leon Cooperman Story

Or: Why I settled with the SEC after vowing not to settle with the SEC.
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Ever since the SEC decided back in 2015 that Leon Cooperman had pulled one trick too many and should answer for his material nonpublic sins, the crotchety billionaire has made clear that he would spare no expense to marginally improve his unjustly sullied reputation. Then the government abruptly offered a settlement of $5 million – down from $8 million – and proposed to let the old guy keep managing Omega Advisors. With that, Coop's heroic ante turned to a well-timed fold and both sides walked away happy not to waste millions more dollars on a lengthy (though probably entertaining) court battle. This, he now says, despite the whole thing being “extraordinarily abusive.”

LeonCooperman

But money wasn't the only consideration in Cooperman's mind:

"My lawyers told me that the probability of my winning would be overwhelmingly high, that if I didn't win it had nothing to do with the merits of the case," he said. "It would have to do with the fact that I'm a former Goldman partner, I'm a hedge fund manager, I'm wealthy. Those are enough factoids that impress juries."

As is well known, there are few groups more persecuted in American life than wealthy former Goldmanites who live on 2-and-20. And for a jury considering a case that rests on the argument that it's perfectly fine to trade on insider information after promising not to trade on it so long as you made the promise not to trade on the insider information only after hearing it, it's far easier just to lump the words “Goldman” and “hedge fund” together and assume guiltthan to grapple with the unholy snarl of paradoxes that is U.S. insider trading law.

In the end, however, it wasn't about Cooperman anyway. It was about the owners of the 40-odd percent of assets in the “glorified family office” whose last names aren't “Cooperman”:

"I didn't want to tilt at windmills," he added. "I didn't want to go on for another two or three years, because I promised my investors from day one that this would not cost them anything — between the insurance and my own money I would take care of everything and that basically it would not distract me from doing the job."

Because God forbid anything distract Cooperman from his job.

Leon Cooperman: SEC insider trading case was 'extraordinarily abusive' [CNBC]

Related

Leon Cooperman's Beef With President Obama Involves An Unsolicited Copy Of His 14 Year-Old Granddaughter's Self-Published Memoirs And Not One Handwritten Thank-You Note In Return

Last November, hedge fund manager Leon Cooperman penned an "Open Letter To The President Of The United States of America," in which he detailed the many ways Barack Obama was pissing him off. The Omega Advisors founder accused the President (and his "minions") of engaging in class warfare, expressed disbelief that he could attack "capitalists who...fill store shelves at Christmas" and still sleep at night, and advised Obama to "eschew the polarizing vernacular of political militancy," lest he lose* Cooperman's vote the next year.  While LC says that he received a major outpouring of support for his words ("[he] keeps a bulging manila folder of congratulatory notes in his office"), others were less than pleased at what they saw as a guy who actually has done pretty okay under Obama lashing out because his feelings were hurt on the occasions the president was perceived to have a "tone" in his voice when discussing the mega-wealthy ("If I knew where you lived, I’d put a bomb in your car," one person wrote Cooperman to say). Similarly, Cooperman's suggestion, on at least two occasions, that America should be worried about the startling parallels between Obama's rise to power and that of Adolf Hitler,** was met with mixed reviews, including one by his wife in which she called him a "schmuck." And while some*** have found it preposterous that Cooperman would paint himself as a victim of Obama, their astonishment speaks to not knowing the whole story, i.e. exactly what this man- no, this monster- did to Leon. Last July, before he had written the letter, Cooperman was invited to the White House for a reception to honor wealthy philanthropists who had signed Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett’s Giving Pledge, promising to donate at least fifty per cent of their net worth to charity. At the event, Cooperman handed the President two copies of “Inspired: My Life (So Far) in Poems,” a self-published book written by Courtney Cooperman, his fourteen-year-old granddaughter. Cooperman was surprised that the President didn’t send him a thank-you note or that Malia and Sasha Obama, for whom the books were intended as a gift and to whom Courtney wrote a separate letter, didn’t write to Courtney. (After Cooperman grumbled to a few friends, including Cory Booker, the mayor of Newark, Michelle Obama did write. Booker, who was also a recipient of Courtney’s book, promptly wrote her “a very nice note,” Cooperman said.) Now do you understand? Now do you understand? Even Hitler would have sent SOMETHING. Super-Rich Irony [New Yorker] Earlier: Leon Cooperman Doesn't Like The Tone Of President Obama's Voice *Just messing about him ever being in a position to "lose" it, of course. **Settle down, he wasn't saying Obama IS Hitler, would would be biologically impossible, he was just saying Obama is the second coming of Hitler, which is something people should be aware of: “You know, the largest and greatest country in the free world put a forty-seven-year-old guy that never worked a day in his life and made him in charge of the free world,” Cooperman told the New Yorker in May. “Not totally different from taking Adolf Hitler in Germany and making him in charge of Germany because people were economically dissatisfied. Now, Obama’s not Hitler. I don’t even mean to say anything like that. But it is a question that the dissatisfaction of the populace was so great that they were willing to take a chance on an untested individual.” ***Mrs. Cooperman, for example.: She is still a liberal, a position that puts her in the minority in their social circle. “She can be a socialist because she’s married to a capitalist,” Cooperman says of his wife, who is strongly pro-choice and pro-gay marriage. She calls Todd Akin, Rick Santorum, and Rick Perry “morons,” and she worries about the underclass. “I care more about the disadvantaged people of America,” she said, comparing her politics with those of her husband.