Although he may not have the mystique of a Nazi back-story to help explain his sinister motives, Swiss billionaire Hansjörg Wyss, 85, is like a sprier, more nature-loving—and possibly more secretive—version of the 90-year-old hedge-fund billionaire.
Yet, as a member of the Soros-supported Democracy Alliance, the Wyoming-based Wyss is no less determined to stealthily spread his wealth and influence to the same leftist causes, according to a recent New York Times profile.
“His political activism is channeled through a daisy chain of opaque organizations that mask the ultimate recipients of his money,” the Times said. “But … Wyss has quietly become one of the most important donors to left-leaning advocacy groups and an increasingly influential force among Democrats.”
In the Joe Biden era—when the far Left has made once widely-embraced infrastructure spending a point of controversy, and even basic facts are impossible to see eye-to-eye on—there would seem to be little room for bipartisan compromise.
However, with the rise of globalist oligarchs relying on a network of shell companies to pipe dark money into radical causes, figures like Wyss could provide just the impetus needed to meaningfully address this blight on democracy.
WORKING IN THE SHADOWS
Wyss, the founder of medical-device manufacturer Synthes, made his fortune off the company’s $20.2 billion sale to Johnson & Johnson in 2012.
According to Forbes, he currently has a net worth of more than $6 billion, making him the 451st wealthiest person in the world.
His personal wealth, combined with that of his 50-year-old daughter Amy—who worked closely with her father in his business—puts the family near Soros’s estimated $8.6 billion net worth.
But unlike the Hungarian-born Soros, who is a naturalized American citizen, Wyss “has not disclosed publicly whether he holds citizenship or permanent residency in the United States,” said the Times.
US campaign-finance laws restrict candidates from accepting direct contributions from foreign sources.
Thus—likely stemming from the ambiguity surrounding his residential status—Wyss has been forced to operate more in the shadows than some billionaire counterparts who are openly engaged in political activity.
“Because the recipients of funds from Mr. Wyss’s foundations do not have to disclose many details about their finances, including which donations are used for which projects, it is not clear how they have used the money originating from Mr. Wyss’s operation,” said the Times.
DEVOUT PHILANTHROPIST OR PARTISAN HACK?
While the nebulous impact of his political spending lends an air of malevolence, those close to Wyss paint a different picture.
Price Floyd, a spokesman for Wyss’s foundations, described him as “a successful businessman turned philanthropist who has pledged over a billion dollars to conserve nature and also sought to bolster social welfare programs in the United States.”
Harvard Business School dean Howard H. Stevenson, a close friend and adviser to Wyss, noted that his passion for environmentalism was on full display in an effort to fight former president Donald Trump’s roll-back of the Obama-era land grab surrounding Utah’s Bear Ears National Monument.
“You don’t have to look at people destroying your work to say maybe you want to try and figure out how you respond in the most effective way,” Stevenson said.
Yet, Wyss’s commitment to those issues seems to have been manifested most notably through his political interference in US politics.
Although his name may be unknown to many, it certainly is not to key Democrat power-players including the Clintons, Barack Obama and Joe Biden.
Wyss sits on the board of the John Podesta-founded Center for American Progress and paid Podesta to be an adviser on a foundation that later merged with the Wyss Foundation.
“Newly obtained tax filings show that Mr. Wyss’s foundations donated $208 million from 2016 through early last year to three nonprofit funds that doled out money to a wide array of groups that backed progressive causes and helped Democrats in their efforts to win the White House and control of Congress last year,” said the Times.
Among the anti-Trump “nonprofits” he funneled funding to via his Berger Action Fund and Wyss Foundation were “organizations that ran voter registration and mobilization campaigns to increase Democratic turnout,” said the Times.
Wyss’s recent dalliance with the purchase of Tribune Publishing, a major US newspaper chain, also suggested he might be considering taking on a more public profile.
However, “Mr. Wyss later dropped out of the bidding for the papers,” it noted.
Wyss has dabbled previously in the Left’s efforts to systematically manipulate media coverage.
The Times said his funding helped to promote “media outlets accused of slanting the news to favor Democrats and sought to block Mr. Trump’s nominees, prove he colluded with Russia and push for his impeachment.”
Ironically, the author of the Times profile, investigative reporter Kenneth P. Vogel, was prominently embroiled in a journalism ethics scandal after Wikileaks revealed that the former Politico writer had allowed the Hillary Clinton campaign to pre-screen a story of his about Democrats fundraising.
FOLLOW THE MONEY
Given Vogel’s own allegiances and the known leanings of his current Times newsroom—which regularly relies on anonymous sourcing within the deep-state to smear Republicans and promote a false leftist narrative—the critical tone of the profile on Wyss may seem a bit surprising.
But as Vogel casually reveals, there is a vested interest among Democrats in attempting to create another Soros-like boogeyman.
To begin with, it could take the focus away from Soros’s efforts to infiltrate local governments and undermine democracy by installing sympathetic, pro-Marxist officials in positions like prosecutor or election supervisor.
Wyss’s zeal for preserving national parkland, which has earned him accolades like National Geographic Philanthropist of the Year, seems much more innocuous by comparison.
The focus on Wyss also may be part of the effort to sway sentiment toward campaign-finance reform, which Democrats have included in their highly controversial HR1 election overhaul.
Vogel made clear that the growing influence of figures like Wyss, who use nonpartisan “incubator” groups to launder their illicit campaign contributions, is a result of the 2010 Citizens United ruling that permitted corporations to enjoy the same political-speech rights as individuals.
“While progressives and election watchdogs denounced the developments as bestowing too much power to wealthy interests, Democratic donors and operatives increasingly made use of dark money,” Vogel wrote.
He noted that despite publicly appearing to abhor the massive corporate spending bonanzas during campaign season, Democrats often privately embraced it. And they quickly overtook Republicans in tapping their elite, billionaire friends for funding.
“During the 2020 election cycle, groups aligned with Democrats spent more than $514 million in such funds, compared to about $200 million spent by groups aligned with Republicans,” Vogel said, citing an analysis from the Center for Responsive Politics.
“Some of the groups financed by Mr. Wyss’s foundations played a key role in that shift, though the relatively limited disclosure requirements for these types of groups make it impossible to definitively conclude how they spent funds from the Wyss foundations,” he added.
Indeed, the changing circumstances of the post-Trump political sphere, in which many powerful corporations have gone “woke” under the influence of leftist billionaires and election-meddling foreign entities like China, could mean the GOP is ready—if, in fact, progressives are—to revisit spending regulations and political funding transparency.
Nonetheless, the bad-faith power-grab that is HR1, which would codify vote-fraud-friendly rules such as ballot-harvesting while banning common-sense election integrity practices, is not likely to be the vehicle for addressing those reforms.