Page One

UC Berkeley’s Plutocratic Prof: $500,000+ to GOP Candidate

By Richard Brenneman
Wednesday September 07, 2011 - 09:54:00 AM

He’s David J. Teece, a native of New Zealand, and he’s the very rich man who helped Tony Blair devise the economic policies which enshrined the neoliberal agenda in Great Britain.

But before we delve into his donations, let’s learn a little more about the man.

He has two day jobs, one as CEO of Berkeley Research Group, a high-profile consultant group which numbers governments, Fortune 500 companies, and white shoe law firms among its clients, and the other as Tusher Professor in Global Business at UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business.

If there’s one thing Teece is good at in addition to his high-flying role as “economics rock star,” it’s his ability to make millions off students.

In addition to his high-salaried teaching job, Teece was also making a tidy pile as landlord to students. In partnership with developer Patrick Kennedy, Teece was owner of Panoramic Interests, the city’s largest private owner of rental housing prior to the company’s sale — for a tidy $147 million —to an ever-richer mogul, Chicagoan Sam Zell — the fellow who also owns the Tribune Company, publisher of California’s leading newspaper, the Los Angeles Times

Back in February, the Sunday Star-Times in Auckland estimated his wealth at $180 million, but a 1 August estimate by New Zealand’s National Business Review places his wealth at $190 million, placing him in 33rd place among the nation’s wealthiest. 

Teece made his largest cash pile from Law and Economics Consulting Group [LECG] in nearby Emeryville, but was ousted from the company he helped start after he resisted a 2009 merger. After his departure, he started the Berkeley Research Group, which has since opened offices in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Diego, and Pittsburgh. 

He got his revenge on LECG by hiring away one of its leading stars, Laura D’Andrea Tyson, a Haas colleague who serves on Barack Obama’s Economic Recovery Advisory Boardand previously chaired Bill Clinton’s Council of Economic Advisers between before becoming his National Economic Adviser from 1995 to 1996. 

Oh, and the San Francisco Business Times reports his new company took in $30 million last year. 

According to the Kiwi Expat Association, a group he cofounded, “David is involved in several New Zealand ventures in farming, forestry, viticulture (Mt Beautiful), consumer electronics, and natural resources.” 

Teece also serves as one of four directors of the Bahrain-based New Zealand Australia Private Equity Fund. 

Oh, and according to the National Business Review

He is also a director (with Sir Stephen Tindall) of Highland Resorts, a company that owns Cardrona’s Branches Station, which offers exclusive access to 36,421 hectares of pristine New Zealand high country for nearly $10,000 a night. 

Oh, and he owns a nice little manse in the Berkeley Hills, where his latest annual property tax bill runs to $14,206.94. 

Altogether, then, a very rich and very powerful figure, and that doesn’t count his state salary, which amounted to a modest $140,325 in 2008, the latest year for which we could find a number. [UPDATE: A friend with access to the state salary database informs us Teece earned $147,031 in 2009, dropping to $143,912 last year.] 

We wrote a lot about Teece when we reported for the Berkeley Daily Planet, but a good place to start is with this profile

But what sparks our interest today is a story we missed during last year’s election season. 

And that’s the $502,400 Teece gave to Republican Tom Campbell, when he ran for Democract Barbara Boxer’s seat in the U.S. Senate. 

That’s right. Teece gave more than a half million dollars to Campbell’s failed election bid, with the $2,400 going to the candidate himself and the lion’s share to a Section 527 political corporation chaired by Teece and named Californians for a Balanced Budget and a Better Economy. For more on the committee, see here

Campbell lost out in the primary to Carly Fiorina — who ran a bizarre TV spot portraying Campbell as a demon sheep. Ah, what the hell. Here it is: 



Now Teece and Campbell were old pals, dating back to the days when Campbell chaired Cal’s Haas School. But not even his fortune was able to ensure a Republican victory, or even defeat the demon sheep-purveyor. 

But Teece’s money did win him a dubious honor, fifth place on the Center for Responsive Politics list of 527 donors [David Koch won the number three spot]. 

As for Campbell, he doesn’t have to worry. Lose a Senate seat and get a job. No sooner had he gone down to defeat at the polls than a new announcement came from Berkeley Research Group: 

Berkeley Research Group, LLC (BRG), a preeminent expert services and data analytics firm, today announced that Dr. Tom Campbell has joined the firm as a Director in the Emeryville, California office. 

Dr. Campbell was a United States Congressman for five terms, serving on the Banking and Financial Institutions Committee, the Judiciary Committee, the International Relations Committee, and the Joint Economic Committee of the US House and US Senate. From 2004 to 2005, he was Director of Finance for the State of California, and from 1981 until 1983, he was Director of the Bureau of Competition at the FTC in charge of all antitrust enforcement. He was a California State Senator as well – rated the number 1 overall State Senator, the most ethical State Senator, and the State Senate’s best problem solver by the California Journal. 

“We’re extremely pleased to have Tom join us,” stated David Teece, chairman of BRG. “He brings an impressive amount of experience from work in both the public and private sectors – I have no doubt he’ll be a tremendous asset.” 

Read the rest