Did Villaraigosa Cozy Up to Leon Cooperman, Billionaire Enemy of The Obama Campaign?

By most accounts L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has been a good Democrat. He supported Hillary Clinton in her presidential bid. And he carried water for the Obama campaign when the contentious issue of God came up during a Democratic National Convention platform meeting.

But a new New Yorker story about billionaires who oppose Obama raises the question of whether the mayor sometimes puts his own ambition above party loyalty:

In May Villaraigosa was at Al Gore's side at the Bellagio in Las Vegas for the SkyBridge Alternatives Conference (SALT), which the magazine describes as an event that "brings together fund managers with brand-name speakers and journalists for four days of talking and partying."

During the confab, hedge fund billionaire Leon Cooperman, who has spearheaded a movement among some of America's ultra-rich against President Obama's campaign for a second term, publicly handed Gore a famous letter he wrote to the president.

Did Villaraigosa Cozy Up to Leon Cooperman, Billionaire Enemy of The Obama Campaign?
The New Yorker

In it, Cooperman writes:

To frame the debate as one of rich-and-entitled versus poor-and-dispossessed is to both miss the point and further inflame an already incendiary environment.

... Rather than assume that the wealthy are a monolithic, selfish and unfeeling lot who must be subjugated by the force of the state, set a tone that encourages people of good will to meet in the middle.

This, of course, is bullshit, as the New Yorker points out. (The ultra-wealthy have continued to do better than ever under Obama, even in this economy, and what Obama has proposed is that, in the light of a Wall Street bailout and subsequent stimulus, the wealthy return to the Reagan days of more taxes -- that billionaire Warren Buffet shouldn't pay less of his income in taxes than his help).

But Villaraigosa seemed cool with it, at least according to the mag's account. After the letter was presented, the story continues,

[Orin] Kramer, the hedge-fund manager and Obama fund-raiser, was quiet, but others in the room were enthusiastic. Villaraigosa gave Cooperman his direct phone number.

Um. Yeah.

We reached out to Villaraigosa's spokesman to see if he might want to comment or refute the story but had yet to hear back.

This might explain why, for Obama's L.A. fundraiser Sunday at the Nokia Theater featuring Stevie Wonder, Jon Bon Jovi and Jennifer Hudson, there's nary a mention of the mayor.

[Added at 12:44 p.m.]: Villaraigosa's spokesman, Peter Sanders, said, "We have no comment."

[@dennisjromero / djromero@laweekly.com / @LAWeeklyNews]

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