Meet the Mooch: A Profile of Anthony Scaramucci

Anthony Scaramucci at the World Economic Forum in 2014. (Unmodified photo by Urs Jaudas used under a Creative Commons license. http://bit.ly/1E6HPMf)

The sudden resignation of former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer on July 21, 2017, shocked the nation. His resignation came shortly after the appointment of financier Anthony Scaramucci–known in his circle as “the Mooch”–as the new White House Communications Director. The New York Times reported that Spicer “vehemently disagreed” with the appointment of Scaramucci; but who exactly is “the Mooch,” and why the controversy?

Anthony Scaramucci was born on Long Island, New York, on January 6, 1964. He grew up in a middle-class, Italian-American, Roman Catholic family, and attended Paul D. Schreiber Senior High School, where he graduated in 1982.

“I grew up on Long Island,” Scaramucci told students at Columbia University in 2012. “Big Italian family. I was a bad student. I was chasing girls. I want you to picture this: I had a black T-shirt. Gold chains. I had a ’79 Camaro—with a power-booster.”

He explained how he shaped up when his father, a construction worker, paid for him to attend Tufts University, where he earned his B.A. in Economics. He worked his way into law school and boasts a J.D. from Harvard.

After receiving his J.D., he landed a job in investment banking at Goldman Sachs, but was fired a year later. When he was rehired, he worked in sales, and eventually left for good in 1996 to launch a hedge fund, Oscar Capital Management. That was sold in 2001 to Neuberger Berman and, in 2005, Scaramucci founded SkyBridge Capital, a global investment firm based in New York City. In 2009, he launched and acted as chairman of the annual SkyBridge Alternatives (“SALT”) Conference in Las Vegas.

In 2011, he was awarded the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year New York Award in the Financial Services category. In 2016, he was ranked #85 in Worth magazine’s “Power 100: The 100 Most Powerful People in Global Finance.”

On January 17, 2017, Scaramucci sold SkyBridge, directing his vision toward the West Wing.

Despite only recently stealing the media spotlight, Scaramucci has long been involved in President Trump’s political career. He joined the Trump Finance Committee in May 2016, after the presidential candidates he previously endorsed (Scott Walker, and then Jeb Bush) had withdrawn from the race. After President Trump won the 2016 election, Scaramucci served on the Presidential-Transition Team Executive Committee.

In fact, Scaramucci had ties to the Trump family long before he came aboard to fundraise for President Trump’s campaign. Scaramucci is close to the president’s eldest, Donald Trump, Jr. He is respected by Ivanka Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner. He has known President Trump himself for several years.

Even so, Scaramucci’s appointment is unusual, given his notable lack of experience in communications, as well as the pushback from those inside the administration. His securing any position was an uncertainty for months; several figures in the White House–former Press Secretary Spicer, as well as chief of staff Reince Priebus and chief strategist Steve Bannon, to name a few–opposed Scaramucci having any appointment at all.

Then President-elect Trump expressed his intent to appoint Scaramucci as Director of the White House Office of Public Liaison and Intergovernmental Affairs on January 12, 2017. His swearing-in was deterred after the Office of Government Ethics reviewed his finances, and ultimately, the position went to George Sifakis.

However, Scaramucci has shown himself to be ardently loyal to the president, and has plenty of experience being on screen. Scaramucci was a regular on financial television, including CNBC, and hosted the financial television news program Wall Street Week from 2014 to 2016. Scaramucci has more recently defended President Trump and his policies on T.V.

His loyalty and patience appears to have paid off. On June 19, 2017, he was named senior V.P. and chief strategy officer for the U.S. Export-Import Bank, and procured his position as White House Communications Director a month later.

At a White House briefing, Scaramucci described his “love” for the president.

“I think there has been at times a disconnect between the way we see the president and how much we love the president and the way perhaps some of you see the president,” he said.

Politico reports that people close to Scaramucci believe he is a good fit for the job, and believe he “generally likes and respects reporters” and “understands they have a job to do.” (He even accepted an apology issued by CNN after the network published and retracted a story which “wasn’t solid enough,” linking Scaramucci to a $10 billion dollar Russian investment fund.)

Whether or not Scaramucci’s experience on television and loyalty to President Trump will be enough to succeed in his new role has yet to be seen. Tasked with mending the troubled relationship between the White House and the press–and with winning back the approval of the American public after President Trump’s ratings have reached an all-time low–the Mooch has his work cut out for him.

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