Ron Burkle Takes Hands-off Approach to Hillary Clinton Campaign

Ron Burkle

In an interview, the longtime Democratic donor — who is co-hosting a fundraiser for Republican candidate John Kasich this month — spoke out about his disenchantment with current party leaders.

Longtime Democratic super donor and Clinton family intimate Ron Burkle said he has not contributed to Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign and currently has no plans to do so, while also expressing his disenchantment with the current crop of his party’s national leaders.

Burkle told the Los Angeles Times that he also regrets supporting Barack Obama, who he accused of failing to build bipartisan relationships in Washington. Later this month, the onetime supermarket magnate even plans to host a fundraiser for Republican candidate John Kasich at his trendy West Hollywood Soho club.

The estrangement apparently goes both ways, since Burkle told his Times interviewer that Hillary Clinton’s campaign “never asked me for a penny.”

In years past, Burkle donated and raised approximately $10 million for the Clintons’ campaigns and struck up a close social and business relationship with Bill Clinton after he left office. According to the paper, the former president, who was a frequent long-term guest at Burkle’s historic Greenacres estate, made about $15 million from his participation in the former supermarket magnate’s Yucaipa Partners investment group, but left the arrangement with millions more owed to him, when the association dissolved.

That occurred during Hillary Clinton’s first presidential campaign, when her aides became concerned that the former chief executive’s involvement in Burkle’s jet set lifestyle, which includes frequent appearances with super models and global travel in a private 757 might lead to scandal.

Burkle claimed to be bemused by his reputation as a playboy, noting that his adolescent son usually was aboard the private jet when he and Clinton traveled together, and describing himself as so "shy" that it "takes" him "a year to tell I girl I like her."

For his part, Burkle’s disenchantment with the current generation of national leaders for the Democratic party seems thoroughgoing, though, as he told the Times, he might still back Clinton’s current effort, if without enthusiasm. “As much as I like Gore, Kerry and [Hillary] Clinton, nobody can ever remember what they stand for,” he said. “They overcomplicate it. … They don't win on vision — they make it too complicated. They don't win on likability.” Burkle said that “people would expect Bill Clinton-style love” from Hillary Clinton, “but that is not going to happen with her.”

In the interview, Burkle said that when the Clintons came to down, Bill would spend the days talking with “interesting people” at his estate, while the former First Lady and her closest aide, Huma Abedin would remain sequestered at the nearby Hotel Bel-Air. “They didn’t want any of it,” he recalled.