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Orthodox Jewish Hedge-Fund Exec Suspended Without Pay for Publicly Criticizing His Trump Mega-Donor Boss

David Magerman, a top patron of Philadelphia’s Jewish schools and institutions, was punished for criticizing his employer, Robert Mercer

Yair Rosenberg
February 23, 2017
Renaissance Technologies CEO Robert Mercer. Facebook
Renaissance Technologies CEO Robert Mercer. Facebook

This morning, The Wall Street Journal reported on tension at the top of one of world’s most successful hedge funds. David Magerman, an Orthodox Jewish computer scientist who helped write the trading systems that made the legendary Renaissance Technologies a billion-dollar investment success, was at loggerheads with its CEO Robert Mercer. The point of contention: Mercer and his family’s generous support for Donald Trump, which Magerman asked him to stop.

Reported WSJ‘s Gregory Zuckerman:

David Magerman says he was in his home office in suburban Philadelphia earlier this month when the phone rang. His boss, hedge-fund billionaire Robert Mercer, was on the line.

“I hear you’re going around saying I’m a white supremacist,” Mr. Mercer said. “That’s ridiculous.”

In the prior weeks, Mr. Magerman, a registered Democrat who calls himself a centrist, had complained to colleagues about Mr. Mercer’s role as a prominent booster of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.

Now word of Mr. Magerman’s criticism had reached Mr. Mercer, co-chief executive of Renaissance Technologies LLC, one of the world’s most successful hedge funds.

“Those weren’t my exact words,” Mr. Magerman said he told Mr. Mercer, stammering and then explaining his concerns about Mr. Trump’s policy positions, rhetoric and cabinet choices. “If what you’re doing is harming the country then you have to stop.”

In the article, Magerman, a controversial philanthropist in his own right who has donated millions to Philadelphia’s Jewish institutions, explained his grievances with his boss in more detail. “His views show contempt for the social safety net that he doesn’t need, but many Americans do,” Magerman said. “Now he’s using the money I helped him make to implement his worldview” to ensure that “government be shrunk down to the size of a pinhead.” During the campaign, Mercer and his daughter Rebekah gave millions to Trump’s campaign and to a SuperPAC backing him, and also played a major role in Trump staffing decisions.

Magerman is an Orthodox Jew, and served on the board of trustees of Yeshiva University. The story of his dispute with Mercer was quickly picked up by other business publications, including Bloomberg. But by this afternoon, the Journal had appended an update to its original piece:

On Thursday morning, after an online version of this story appeared, Mr. Magerman received a new phone call from Renaissance. A representative told Mr. Magerman that he was being suspended without pay and no longer could have contact with the company.

Yair Rosenberg is a senior writer at Tablet. Subscribe to his newsletter, listen to his music, and follow him on Twitter and Facebook.