By Jeremy Binckes
That was Adam Wyden, son of Sen. Ron Wyden, who is one of the biggest critics of his father’s efforts to establish a wealth tax on billionaires. But despite joining Elon Musk in blasting the Oregon Democrat over Twitter last week, the junior Wyden says that there is no bad blood between father and son.
“I think we have a mutual respect for one another,” hedge-fund manager Adam Wyden told CNBC Monday. He added that he believed in a “separation of church and state,” realizing that there is a difference between the man who is his father, and the politician.
“The reality is that I have an enormous amount of respect for my father,” Wyden said, “but this is an issue that hits very close to home.” He added, “I built everything brick by brick, and as it relates to the legislators, I think it’s clear to me that the people who are making these policy decisions have never experienced the ups and downs of running a business. They don’t understand what it takes to build a business.” He pointed to Amazon /zigman2/quotes/210331248/composite AMZN -1.83% , Google /zigman2/quotes/205453964/composite GOOG -2.62% /zigman2/quotes/202490156/composite GOOGL -2.50% , Netflix /zigman2/quotes/202353025/composite NFLX -1.26% and Tesla /zigman2/quotes/203558040/composite TSLA -1.60% as four companies that exist in a “culture of innovation” that makes the U.S. “the envy of the world.”
Wyden’s Monday comments came a week after he blasted Sen. Wyden indirectly, saying that the politician hated the American dream while commenting on an explicit tweet that Tesla CEO Musk had directed at his dad. “Most legislators have never built anything,” Adam Wyden wrote, “so I guess it’s easier to mindlessly and haphazardly try and tear stuff down.”
But a week after saying that his father hated the American dream and was on a path to “tear stuff down,” Wyden moderated his tone — when it came to calls to raise taxes on billionaires, anyway.
“The dialogue needs to get to a higher level,” he said, “and people in power or in the private sector need to look to things that will engender capitalism as opposed to vilifying it.”
Adam Wyden built a hedge fund that started, in his words, “with $400,000 on the second floor of my mother’s home.” (His parents divorced in 1999.) According to a Forbes profile earlier this year, Wyden made much of his early money reselling parts for remote-control cars for a “fourfold profit.” Much of his money seemed to come from successful stock investments, starting with stocks suffering during the Wall Street crash of 2008.
Although the junior Wyden’s hedge-fund success has meant that he is worth orders of magnitude more than his father, that doesn’t mean that Ron Wyden doesn’t have money, himself. According to OpenSecrets , a watchdog that tracks money in politics, Wyden was worth more than $6.8 million as of 2018. (The senator’s second and current wife, Nancy Bass Wyden, inherited the legendary Strand bookstore in Manhattan from her father.)
As for Thanksgiving, father and son won’t be getting together this year. Adam Wyden told CNBC he’ll be spending the holiday with his in-laws.