September - 2006

September 18, 2006 – Giustra says his chips are on Bill Clinton who is a “worldwide brand, and he can do things that no one else can.”

Bill Clinton & Frank Giustra (Credit: C Shannon Stapleton/Reuters)

[…]”Several tables away, I was talking with Frank Giustra, a mining financier based in Vancouver, who started, ran, and sold Lions Gate Films. Giustra is in his late forties. He is short and trim and has close-cut white hair. The plane in which Clinton was touring Africa was Giustra’s, an MD-87 jet, complete with leather furniture and a stateroom. Giustra told me that he was still heavily involved in business—he travels frequently to Kazakhstan, to check on mining interests he has there—but that his wife had been pushing him to give away more of his money.

“All of my chips, almost, are on Bill Clinton,” he said. “He’s a brand, a worldwide brand, and he can do things and ask for things that no one else can.”

Clinton is the first post-President to tap into the newer generation of wealth—the hedge-fund and retail moguls, who have bigger planes to lend and more cash to burn than their upper-class predecessors ever had. Ronald Burkle, a supermarket tycoon, is another frequent travelling companion and airplane lender; Burkle made Clinton a partner in one of his investment funds. Clinton’s appeal for these tycoons is obvious: in exchange for giving money to a good cause—the Clinton Foundation’s budget last year was thirty million dollars—you not only have the usual tax break and the knowledge that you are doing good but also get to play Oh Hell until five in the morning with a two-term ex-President who knows how to have a good time. You become a certified Friend of Bill, which still has some currency, six years after one Clinton White House and, possibly, two years before another. Writing a check to the March of Dimes hardly provides the same multi-layered reward.” (Read more: The New Yorker, 09/18/2018)