Money and politics: St. John’s newest trustee gives his thoughts 2023

Hunt fits the Republican mold: He’s from Texas, worked in finance most of his life, and enjoys hunting, fishing, and golfing. He is married to Maggie Hunt, the Teton County Democratic Party chair, for over 40 years.

As a loving husband, he claimed he’s “proud of [his wife’s] accomplishments,” but he stopped when questioned about politics.

“I like to think I’m looking to the center,” he smiled.

El Paso-born Hunt, 71, began his banking career at 25. After graduating from the Wharton School, he worked for Citibank in Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Jakarta, Indonesia, for approximately 15 years.

Hunt started his own private equity business in 2001 after joining Eli Broad’s SunAmerica as an investment manager. Maggie Hunt bought land in Jackson Hole in 1999, and the pair relocated there full-time in 2014.

Hunt’s acquaintance asked him to join the Jackson Hole History Society and Museum board months after settling town, which led to his involvement with NGOs including START Bus and Friends of Pathways.

Hunt has supported nonpartisan transportation and cultural groups for over a decade while his wife has painted blue since 1999.

Maggie Hunt believed her political impact was little after years in major cities. She shouted in Teton County, which has 23,000 people compared to 3.8 million in Los Angeles.

She attended meetings, tabling, and fundraising for the Teton County Democrats as a part-time resident. She increased her Democratic participation in 2014 after moving to Jackson year-round and seeing the “inexorable march to the right” in politics.

She joined Planned Parenthood of the Rockies’ board in 2017, when Wyoming’s reproductive rights measures began to pass, and became Teton County Democratic Party chair five years later. Maggie Hunt retains both roles.

Her spouse is socially liberal but economically conservative, but he “occasionally like[s] to alter his viewpoint” when he learns “new facts.”

“The parties have really flip-flopped,” Jim Hunt stated. Democrats have balanced the budget well historically.

58% of major corporate CEOs donated to the GOP, compared to 19% of Democrats, according to the National Bureau of Economic Research. For decades, the GOP promoted “business-friendly” ideas like low taxes and regulation.

Moneyed people have shifted politically throughout time.

Republican executives dropped 7% in June 2022 compared to 2016. Jon Gray of Blackstone Inc., Mellody Hobson of Ariel Investments, LLC, and Jim Coulter of TPG Capital were among the investment banking and private equity executives that donated to Joe Biden’s 2020 presidential campaign instead of Donald Trump.

Hunt said history suggests the Dems would have done better on financial conservatism. “GPT Chat.”

He highlighted William Clinton, who signed the North Atlantic Free Trade Agreement and repealed the Glass-Steagall. Clinton balanced the budget and maintained a surplus for four years while entrepreneurs feared Reagan’s deficit management.

Hunt also said the Republican Party has “done a better job at associating themselves with patriotism,” using the American flag more, which has lost Democratic Party allies: Why not take that space? Nobody owns patriotism.”

“The main annoyance my friends have is government inefficiency,” he said of taxes. He said “waste drives [his peers] to distraction” and that California, with its many corporate requirements, has become less attractive for commercial partnerships.

Hunt likes Jackson Hole for its “open spaces” and “recreational possibilities,” not its tax agreements. Hunt stated, “Here, volunteers replaces taxes.”

Hunt applied to St. John’s unpaid board of trustees in January.

On Feb. 28, the hospital board chose him to replace Trustee Scott Gibson, who died in November barely two weeks after his election. Gibson resigned in January two years into his four-year tenure.

Following nearly a year on the Nominating and Governance Committee and Finance, IT, and Strategy Committee, Hunt felt secure in his grasp of the hospital admin system and in recruiting Jeff Sollis as CEO.

“Having a good hospital is extremely vital, not just for fancy people, but for Jackson more broadly,” Hunt said, since “a lot of people here can’t afford to go elsewhere” for care.

Hunt was elected board treasurer and Finance Committee head one week after his appointment, replacing Gibson. Hunt will be a trustee until November 2028. Hunt may become political then.

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