Who is David Rubenstein? ‘Woke’ billionaire reportedly made a fortune by 'scamming' Alaska natives

Rubenstein's Carlyle Group has reportedly donated thousands of dollars to organizations that preserve and enhance historical landmarks and monuments


                            Who is David Rubenstein? ‘Woke’ billionaire reportedly made a fortune by 'scamming' Alaska natives
David Rubenstein speaks onstage at the Winter Gala at Lincoln Center at Alice Tully Hall on February 13, 2018, in New York City (Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for Lincoln Center)
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Billionaire David Rubenstein's philanthropic activities discredit the Founding Fathers and portray them as "racists" even though his own business has made a fortune by profiting off the less fortunate, claims a report by the New York Post. 

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Rubenstein, 72, who co-founded personal equity giant Carlyle Group, has donated tens of thousands of dollars to organizations that preserve and enhance historical landmarks and monuments like the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument, Monticello, and Montpelier, and the homes of US presidents Thomas Jefferson and James Madison since 2013. However, some claim that the renovations of the presidential mansions have downplayed the accomplishments of the presidents while recasting them as sinister racists, as per the report.

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Recent visitors to Monticello and Montpelier have flooded Trip Advisor with comments about how the former presidents have been virtually reduced to evil slaveholders in the lectures by the tour guides, while books on anti-racism and critical race theory by Ibram X Kendi and Ta-Nehisi Coates are sold in the gift shops.

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One visitor after his visit to Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello remarked, “Do your history homework before going, so you can appreciate this great American… the woke tour guide will leave you feeling like he started the Ku Klux Klan.”

“They have demonized the founding fathers now,” wrote another recent visitor to Monticello. “Same thing with Madison’s home. I would stay away from places like this. It’s not worth the propaganda.” 

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The Monticello home of former U.S. President Thomas Jefferson is shown August 17, 2005 near Charlottesville in Virginia. The rapid growth of the Washington Metropolitan area in Northern Virginia is threatening the
Recent visitors to Monticello and Montpelier have flooded Trip Advisor with comments about how the former presidents have been reduced to evil slaveholders (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Who is David Rubenstein?

A brief look into Rubenstein's past reveals that he isn't exactly a saint himself. He built his initial fortune in the 1980s by taking advantage of a tax loophole in Alaska that allowed him to profit from transactions with Native Americans and the Rubenstein family has been gaining power in the state, claims the New York Post report.

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In 2014, the billionaire's then-wife also helped elect the state's governor, who in turn opened up Alaska's $80 billion Permanent Fund, a part of which is managed by the Carlyle Group. The fund recently named Rubenstein's daughter to the fund. “Here’s a guy who has taken advantage of other people to climb to the top while he expects perfection from the Founding Fathers,” Dan Fagan, a talk show host and journalist who covered Alaska for 25 years, told The Post. “Because of the Rubenstein family and how [his ex-wife] influenced the change in the state’s sovereign fund, the average Alaskan family has lost tens of thousands of dollars,” he added.

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Rubenstein started as a staff member in the Carter administration and advanced to the pinnacles of banking, politics, and society. He was the only child of a Baltimore mailman and homemaker who raised him in a two-bedroom row house. He co-founded the Carlyle Group 35 years ago, and his current net worth is believed to be $3.6 billion.

The bespectacled, white-haired Rubenstein, who got divorced in 2017, is also a history buff, and has been labeled the "Patriotic Philanthropist".

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The Carlyle Group co-CEO and Economic Club of Washington President David Rubenstein interviews Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) during the club's Ideas Forum at the JW Marriott Hotel September 28, 2016 in Washington, DC. The interview covered personal and professional ground, moving back and forth between issues of policy and Ryan's lifestyle since becoming Speaker.
David Rubenstein (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

“I came from very modest circumstances,” he told an audience in 2018 at the National Churchill Library and Center at George Washington University. “I want to be able to say thank you for my success in this country, and I owe it to the country. And I’m doing it in a way that’s designed to draw attention to [American] history and heritage,” he added. He is also the chairman of the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the National Gallery of Art, and the Council on Foreign Relations, and the former chairman of Smithsonian.

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How did Rubenstein start his business?

In 1987, Rubenstein and Stephen L Norris co-founded the Carlyle Group with the majority of their initial funding from some native Alaskans who owned failing oil and timber businesses. Critics of the agreement at the time, notably Michael Lewis, referred to it as 'The Great Eskimo Tax Scam'. Lewis claimed that the term was also used in the Carlyle Group's offices.

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Lewis, who penned a critique of Rubenstein and the scheme in 1993, claims that the "scam grew out of a brief, curious tax loophole that permitted Alaskan companies owned by Eskimos to sell their losses for hard cash to other American corporations. By offsetting the Eskimo losses against their gains, American corporations were able to avoid income taxes. All of a sudden there was a business in matching up profitable American corporations with Eskimos. Rubenstein and Norris spotted the window of opportunity and jumped through,” according to the report. 

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One article at the time stated, "Norris and Rubenstein had little trouble discovering needy Eskimos. They were flown into Washington, treated like kings and queens, and made to become as addicted to free money as the industrious drug traffickers who were just then delivering crack cocaine to America's Lower 48. The partners juiced a billion dollars in losses through the system while taking 1 per cent of the transaction for themselves."

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(Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
David Rubenstein, a billionaire who came from humble beginnings, stated he owes his success "to the country." However, his philanthropy, which involves renovating presidential mansions, trashes the Founders, especially Thomas Jefferson (L) (Hulton Archive, and Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images)

Rubenstein's then-wife, Alice Rogoff, whom he met while they were both employed at the Carter White House, first traveled to Alaska in 2001 and fell in love with it so much that she decided to purchase a home there. She seemed to truly care about the state and its people, encouraging Alaskan art among other things, according to several political insiders in Alaska. In 2014, she completed her private pilot training and flew the renowned Iditarod race with her friend Ghislaine Maxwell. David Rubenstein rarely visited, according to sources quoted by The Post.

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The Permanent Fund was established in 1976 as a result of an amendment to the Alaska Constitution. Its purpose was to put approximately 25 per cent of the royalties from oil flowing through the Trans-Alaska pipeline into a fund specifically for future generations who would no longer have access to oil as a resource. Every year, Alaskans receive dividend checks that typically cost between $800 and $3,200.

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According to public documents, the Carlyle Group started managing Permanent Fund assets in 2005 and currently looks after little under $1 billion of the fund. The Carlyle Group was the focus of numerous conspiracy theories in the early 2000s, many of which centered on its strong ties to the Bush family, the Saudis, and the military-industrial complex. 'The Iron Triangle: Inside the Secret World of the Carlyle Group', a 2003 book by Dan Briody, described the purportedly shady business practices of the organization.

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Rubenstein and Rogoff's daughter Gabrielle Rubenstein was appointed to the board of trustees of the Permanent Fund Corporation two weeks ago.