It may be hard to remember such a time, but once, former Fortress Investment Group executive made, rather than lost, money on cryptocurrencies. And with the money he made, he bought a private jet.
That’s pretty standard for people like Mike Novogratz. But, unusually for the hedge-fund and private-equity set, and especially unusually for a guy whose behavior can resemble that of some, shall we say, more aggressive police officers, he felt kind of bad about it. So he decided to give an equal amount of money away to a worthy cause, to salve his conscience. But what worthy cause?
As it happens, and still more unusually for people of his ilk, Novogratz wrote his senior thesis at Princeton on race and income inequality, and he got to thinking: In his more than 50 years of drinking, carousing, competitive wrestling and threatening reporters, he has “never once felt threatened by a cop.” So the second Gulfstream’s worth of money went to toward criminal justice reform.
He really got to know the criminal justice system when he became chairman of the Bail Project in 2017, which works to help people not yet convicted get out of jail…. “I hired a guy, and we systematically met with just about everybody in the field. I’ve visited seven or eight prisons, and the more you look into it the more angry you get. It is unjust, uneconomic, it’s unfair, it strips people away of their dignity. It retraumatizes people….”
“Let’s end the argument is there systemic racism in America, the point has been made,” he said.
Watching New York City burn from his Tribeca quadriplex made Novogratz angry, but not at those who smashed up his neighborhood which, he notes, was fine by the time he was coming home from work: “Rich neighborhoods get cleaned up fast.” And he’s got an idea of how to fix things, combining his passion for combatting racism with his continuing love for the blockchain.
After the death of George Floyd, he wants to see a national registry for abusive police officers….
Novogratz said he’s been steering people to support the Center for Policing Equity run by Phillip Atiba Goff. The group sets up dashboards for police departments and works with police chiefs to show how their officers behave and how the departments function, and then offer suggestions to make them more efficient and less biased.
Novogratz, who describes himself as center left, also supports setting up a national registry of bad cops. That way an officer fired for excessive roughness can’t get a job in another state.
“One strike, you’re out,” he said. “It would be symbolic -- but also practical.”