NYT hails philanthropy of billionaire whose focus is history

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tags: philanthropy, David Rubenstein, Carlyle Group



Thumbnail Image -  By © Monika Flueckiger / World Economic Forum, swiss-image.ch, CC BY-SA 2.0

One famous Washington billionaire has spent years and millions of his dollars building a culture of public service. Yes, it’s not President Trump.

While Mr. Trump was turning his father’s Queens real estate business into an icon of '80s Manhattan excess, David Rubenstein co-founded the Carlyle Group in Washington in 1987, building it into one of the world’s largest private equity firms. ...

Over the years, he has contributed tens of millions to American cultural and educational institutions, including the Library of Congress, National Archives, Smithsonian and John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Also, Duke University and the University of Chicago (where he received his undergraduate and law degrees, respectively), Harvard University, and Johns Hopkins medical centers.

He is funding a renovation of the Washington Monument and the giant panda breeding program at the National Zoo. An avid student of American history, he purchased copies of Magna Carta, as well as the Declaration of Independence, Emancipation Proclamation and other rare American documents, which are now on display in government buildings and museums in the capital.

Six to eight times a year, for the past three years, Mr. Rubenstein has hosted a dinner at the Library of Congress in an effort to rekindle good will. He invites legislators of both parties, their spouses or guests for a reception, an exhibit of historic documents or artifacts and an interview with an American historian, conducted by Mr. Rubenstein, who fields questions afterward.

Lawmakers have called these “date nights,” and they “tell me this is the most interesting thing they’re doing in Washington, going to this dinner,” which he says is acknowledgment of the evening’s value, but also that “for most of them life is a grind — they spend a couple of days a week here, and rarely get to socialize.”

The library, one of the grandest, most inspiring public spaces in Washington, “is neutral territory.”






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