Donor-advisers, the arcane and erudite term of art for the elite fixers of the ultra-high-net-worth crowd, have underappreciated power in politics. People like Miriam Adelson or George Soros don’t have time to whip the party committees—that’s why they have Andy Abboud and Michael Vachon. (Indeed, one reason I’m skeptical of Elon Musk’s political ambitions is that he hasn’t yet hired a political fixer of his own.) But no other individual donor-advisor on the left comes close to being as provocative as Dmitri Mehlhorn, the political muscle behind Reid Hoffman, and a growing sphere of influence himself.
Mehlhorn, who entered politics after a decade at GLG and then some years fighting the teachers’ unions at various advocacy groups, quickly achieved first-name status within elite Democratic circles—not always for the right reasons, as he made fierce defenders and fierce critics alike. While Dmitri isn’t always speaking for Hoffman, he is, without a doubt, one of the most powerful people in the Democratic donor world—playing host, for instance, to a 2020 donor table that featured Biden officials and helped steer big money behind the scenes to super PACs and dark-money groups. (Mehlhorn advises other donors besides Hoffman, but doesn’t disclose them.)
After Biden’s election, however, Dmitri has become increasingly public with his frustrations toward the leftward flank of the Democratic Party, which he sees as all but facilitating Trump’s return to power in 2024. Earlier this year, Mehlhorn sent an email to a group of progressive activists he had supported in the past, saying that the anti-Trump cause would have been better served if the left had “simply taken a long nap” over the last year. (Several people forwarded me the note.) “I have very few friends in politics,” he told me.