Ted Forstmann, a Republican Party donor who served as co-chair of George H.W. Bush's unsuccessful 1992 re-election campaign, is a high-powered equity investor and business executive who has had close ties to a number of militarist and neoconservative groups and individuals.
Considered a pioneer of the modern buyout business, Forstmann's corporate experience includes founding the leveraged buyout firm Forstmann Little & Co., serving as a CEO of Gulfstream Aerospace, and serving as chairman and CEO of IMG Worldwide Inc., a leading global sports and entertainment company.
Forstmann is sometimes viewed by fellow conservatives as a solitary beacon amidst the perceived liberal elite associated with high finance in the United States. Complaining that the Republican Party was unfairly blamed for the Wall Street debacle, right-wing pundit Ann Coulter wrote in 2009:
[President Barack] Obama just got the biggest campaign haul from Wall Street in world history, and Republicans still can't shake the public perception that they are tied at the hip to Wall Street bankers who hate them.... Maybe if the financial capital of the nation were located in Salt Lake City, rather than Manhattan, the financial community would support Republicans. But Wall Street is a street located in New York City. No one in the top echelons of the financial industry who has a weekend place in the Hamptons is a Republican. No, there is one. Teddy Forstmann.He has to throw his own parties and fly guests in. Otherwise, if they want to go to any half-decent parties, bankers must be Democrats. At their income bracket, multimillionaires will trade a little extra tax money for good cocktail parties.
Forstmann served as the founding chair and sponsor of Empower America a right-wing pressure group founded by William Bennett in 1993. Other members of the now-defunct group, which helped promote an expansive "war on terror" after the 9/11 attacks, included Jack Kemp and Jeane Kirkpatrick . In 2004, Empower America merged with Citizens for a Sound Economy (CSE), a rightist pro-free-market think tank, to create a new group called FreedomWorks <
Forstmann also served on the boards of the libertarian Cato Institute and the neoconservative-aligned Freedom House
Forstmann's business activities have brought him in close contact with leading Republican Party figures. He has served alongside Donald Rumsfeld on the boards of a number of companies, including Gulfstream Aerospace and General Instruments. And his Forstmann Little buyout firm has counted among its advisers Henry Kissinger and George Shultz.
In addition to his boardroom alliances with Republican Party leaders, Forstmann has also thrown his own hat into the political ring, considering a run for one of New York's U.S. Senate seats in 2000. Though never elected to public office before, Forstmann had the advantage of a public profile developed through his work with the Children's Scholarship Fund. One of his advisers told the New York Times, "Because of his record on education he is a much more formidable candidate for Hillary to run against. He steals Hillary's strongest issue, particularly among her strongest supporters."
In 1997, Business Week published a cover story on Forstmann and Gulfstream, which was bought out by Forstmann Little in 1990. The article began:
It is a late fall afternoon in 1996, and a shoeless Theodore J. Forstmann is stretched out in a leather chair aboard his luxurious private jet, kneading his brow with both hands in a futile attempt to dissipate a splitting headache. Forstmann flies a Gulfstream IV, the Rolls Royce of corporate aviation. But this is more than just a mogul's plaything. Forstmann, best known as a Wall Street dealmaker, is chairman of the company that made it: Gulfstream Aerospace Corp. Exhausted by two days of glad-handing at an aircraft convention in Orlando, Forstmann is racing home to New York to talk about Gulfstream on CNN at 6:10 p.m.