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preoccupied with occupy wall street

Financier Helped Launch Occupy Wall Street, Donated to Mitt Romney, Too

Probably not him.

Robert S. Halper is a retired banker, former vice-chairman of the New York Mercantile Exchange, and a longtime patron of Adbusters, the Canadian magazine initially behind Occupy Wall Street. Halper's donations to the publication have totaled between $50,000 and $70,000 over the last two decades, with his latest gift of $20,000 arriving about a month before the start of the protest. Now, he shows up to Zuccotti Park every day and makes the rounds talking to demonstrators, but fails to mention his behind-the-scenes role. "The whole thing is very surreal to me — the fact that I spent my whole career right across the street," he told the New York Times. "It makes me a little anxious, to tell you the truth. It could go anywhere. I just pray that it ends peaceful." Curiously, Halper also recently donated $2,500 to Mitt Romney's campaign.

By way of explanation, he told the Times, "My giving is a little A.D.D. — like me." Halper lives on the Upper West Side and is a self-described 1 percenter. "The fact that I made a lot of money, things just worked out for me," he said. "There’s some issues where we’re all in it together."

Like health care, which Halper said was way more important to him the last time he visited Adbusters editor-in-chief Kalle Lasn, who explained the plans for the Wall Street Protest over a steak dinner. "I rolled my eyes," said Halper. But he still wrote the check.

This post has been updated with additional information.

He Made It on Wall St. and Used It to Help Start the Protests [City Room/NYT]

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Photo: Jim Kiernan