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August Wolf '83, an Olympian running for U.S. Senate

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When August Wolf ’83 decided to make a run for public office, his first task was deciding whether to run for the U.S. Senate or the House of Representatives. He started by looking at his potential general election opponents, and ultimately decided to run for the Senate because of his opponents’ myriad weaknesses.

“I came upon a particular race where the opponent I would face would be so awful,” Wolf said. “I would be such a clear alternative to him, and if presented properly, I would have a shot to beat him.”

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Wolf, who goes by “Augie,” has been residing in Connecticut for the last four years and is running for senator as a member of the Republican Party. His campaign will attempt to unseat current Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal, a democrat.

Blumenthal is best known for calling upon the Justice Department to investigate employers who required employees to submit their Facebook passwords during the hiring process. He also authored a bill to eliminate pensions for members of Congress convicted of felonies, and has sided with mainstream Democrats in supporting the Iran nuclear deal and the Affordable Care Act.

Wolf noted that he was motivated to run for the U.S. Senate after witnessing the “destruction” that has occurred in Connecticut. He explained that many businesses have left Connecticut due to high taxes and regulation and pointed to General Electric’s decision to move its headquarters from Fairfield, Conn., to Boston.

“That is a huge blow to the state of Connecticut,” Wolf said. “If the board of GE thinks it’s a good idea, I’m sure the boards of other publicly traded companies are asking, ‘What are we doing here?’”

Wolf noted that in today’s political environment, he has a chance to unseat one of the most powerful men in Washington. He explained that Blumenthal is a career politician and traditional Democrat, and has not acted in the best interests of his constituents.

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“He spends most of his time doing things that will help him get re-elected, not necessarily things that are good for the next generation of the state of Connecticut,” Wolf said. “He’s sort of the worst of the worst.”

Wolf wants Connecticut voters to consider not just their own individual plight, but also the plight of their neighbors, who he says are over-taxed and over-regulated. He noted that voters should elect him to get some fresh eyes in the Senate, and added that so far, reaction has been positive.

Wolf said that he disapproves of the low-interest rate policies undertaken by the Federal Reserve, since they have not helped the majority of working Americans. He is also opposed to the Iran nuclear deal, which Blumenthal supported, noting that with the extra money Iran obtained, the county has now begun to launch missiles and threaten Israel. On tax policy, he disagrees with Senator Blumenthal’s approach to raise taxes to pay for other people’s social programs. He noted that if elected, he would work to balance the federal budget and freeze federal governmental hiring.

Wolf also criticized Senator Blumenthal’s position on jobs, noting that as Connecticut Attorney General, Blumenthal persecuted many businesses just to make headlines, which led to weak job creation in the state.

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“He is totally out of touch, and he is a Washington insider,” Wolf said. “Every day that I will be on the Senate floor, I will be thinking of the real stories of the people of Connecticut.”

To help the people of Connecticut, Wolf wants to lower the federal corporate tax rate, which he says would bring money being held offshore by companies back into the United States. He also noted that he would focus on improving education in the inner cities and that he wants to give every student a fair shot. To do this, he will advocate for more state and local control of schools; he noted that since the federal Department of Education was established, education has worsened in the U.S.

“The great majority of people who I have talked to have loved my outsider message,” Wolf said. “I am very much a proponent of limited government and economic freedom.”

Wolf grew up in Minnesota and attended St. Paul Academy. He noted that in high school he enjoyed studying history and German and that he decided to apply to the University because of its unique academic environment.

“I was interested in Princeton because it’s a relatively international place,” Wolf said. “When I visited after getting accepted, I fell in love with it immediately.”

Wolf explained that when he arrived at the University, he found all the students to be very intelligent, noting that they came from diverse backgrounds. As a freshman, he spent most of his time playing on the track team and studying. Later on, he helped found the Nassau Weekly publication by selling advertisements. Wolf then started an informal Diplomacy club, modeled after the game, and joined the now defunct Dial Lodge eating club.

“It was the animal house of the era,” Wolf said. “We had a lot of fun there.”

He also pioneered the first so-called “bouncers” at the eating clubs in his senior year. He noted that club officers were the ones who used to stand outside during parties and check IDs. To relieve the officers, Wolf set up a company, called Prospect Security, through which clubs would hire large student athletes to stand outside and serve as guards during parties.

Wolf spent most of his time at the University on the the track team as a shot put thrower and discus thrower. He credits current track Coach Fred Samara for helping to markedly improve his game. As a member of the team, Wolf won the Indoor National Title at the 1984 USA-Mobil Indoor Track and Field Championship and was the 1984 U.S. National Champion. He also placed fifth at the 1983 World University Games in Edmonton, Alberta.

Samara did not respond to a request for comment.

As a senior, Wolf contemplated competing in the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles. He attended the national Olympic trials and placed second among the shot put throwers in the United States. Wolf explained that the environment at the trials and at the Olympics was very stressful.

“It is very pressure-packed, and people spent years of their life preparing for this moment,” he said. “It’s an amazing event to watch.”

At the Olympic games, Wolf placed fourth in the shot-put, which he described as the worst place in which to finish. However, he noted that he enjoyed the overall experience; his favorite part was marching with the U.S. team during the opening ceremony in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

“There were 100,000 people on their feet, screaming, and you couldn’t hear yourself talk,” Wolf said. “On our right were Ronald and Nancy Reagan, and there was quite a feeling of achievement and belonging.”

In 1985, Wolf was sanctioned by the International Association of Athletics Federations after refusing a drug test during a meet in Norway. He explained that he had just taken antihistamines to lessen his allergies and told the officials that he couldn’t do the drug test at that time. The officials agreed. Three months later, the IAAF suspended him for life, but after he and the U.S. Track and Field Federation appealed the decision, the ban was reduced to 18 months.

“I would have passed that test if it were not for the anti-histamine,” Wolf said.

Wolf graduated from the University with a degree from the Wilson School. He wrote his senior thesis on the effect of oil on emerging market economies. He explained how the economic rent received by the oil producing countries distorts their societies and noted that the unintended consequences of resource wealth outweigh the intended benefit. He pointed to Nigeria as an example, where oil resulted in many economic issues for the country.

After competing in the Olympics, Wolf joined Kidder Peabody, an investment bank on Wall Street. He facilitated financial transactions and then joined the Chicago Board of Trade. He explained that he didn’t enjoy the environment at the Board of Trade since it involved many people screaming at each other; he subsequently left the Board.

Wolf then moved to California and attempted to qualify for the 1988 Olympic team. Unfortunately, he suffered an injury and had to suspend his athletic pursuit. He took up a job at Symantec doing distribution sales, for which he spoke with distributors, trained them to sell products and attended trade shows.

Wolf returned to New York City and worked as a bond salesman for 20 years before deciding to try something else. At a football game in 2014 he ran into Alexandra Lebenthal ’90 and her husband Jay Diamond ’86, who had been on the track team with him. Lebenthal asked Wolf to look into her company, Lebenthal Wealth Advisors, and a few months later, he joined.

As an investment advisor, he helps his individual clients decide where to invest their money, notes that unlike larger advisory firms, all the advisors know their clients by name, and not their account number.

Abbey Fox, who was Wolf’s sales assistant when he was a bond salesman, explained that Wolf’s background in finance will help him in the Senate in terms of negotiating and working with people who have different views. She noted that Wolf was the best teacher she ever had, especially since the trading floor environment is very cutthroat.

“He didn’t see me as a competitor, but as a mentee, and someone who he could help in my career,” Fox said. “He took the time and patience to help me, and people don’t do that very often in that business.”

Wolf joined the board of Holborn, a reinsurance brokerage, which provides insurance for smaller insurance companies. Holborn’s Chief Executive Officer Frank Harrison, a decathlete who trained on the University track team with Wolf, nominated him to Holborn’s board after needing an outside board member familiar with money management.

Wolf is also the founder of the U.S. Athletic Trust, a foundation that funds potential Olympic athletes. He noted that the idea for this foundation came from his own experience, because he funded his own Olympic training with a scholarship to train and study in West Germany.

“When I was in Germany, I saw a whole different system on how they support their athletes,” Wolf said. “It made ours look pretty shabby.”

In 2000, Wolf heard about the success of high jumper Tora Harris ’02 at the NCAA tournament and asked him if he was going to be preparing for the Olympics. Wolf noted that Harris did intend to train for the Olympics, but he did not have any funding.

“Here was a kid who was much better than I was, and he was getting no support when he graduated,” Wolf said. “This spurred me to start U.S. Athletic Trust.”

The U.S. Athletic Trust currently funds 50 athletes, one of whom is Nathan Crumpton ’08, who recently won eighth place in the world championships for skeleton racing.

Crumpton noted that Wolf has been instrumental in helping him pursue his athletic endeavors. Crumpton heard about Wolf’s foundation through another alumnus and applied for funding to train for skeleton racing. At first, Wolf said he couldn’t fund him, since Crumpton didn’t have a record at the time. Yet after one year, Crumpton returned with promising results, and Wolf agreed to sponsor and hire him. Crumpton now serves as the operations manager for the U.S. Athletic Trust.

“Overwhelmingly, Augie is a great guy,” Crumpton said. “He may appear intimidating at first, but he is just a warm-hearted individual who will do anything he can to help out deserving people.”

Alfonso Scannapieco, a pole-vaulter at University of Albany, said that when he told Wolf that he did not have the money to pay for the coaching needed to compete at the college level, Wolf and another student asked Scannapieco to train and lift with them, and eventually coached him.

“It was kind of cool, because I had never had anyone coach me,” Scannapieco said. “He said I had a lot of athletic ability and I could be a Division 1 athlete.”

Scannapieco noted that Wolf worked with him constantly so he could compete at the collegiate level and be the first in his family to go to college, which Scannapieco eventually did. He said that without Wolf’s guidance he would have become a construction worker.

Wolf also serves on the US Olympic and Paralympic Foundation, which he joined to get more involved with the Olympic committee. He mostly works on raising money for the foundation and helping allocate more money toward helping athletes. He also does some fundraising work for the Board of the Friends of Princeton Track.

“We want athletes to have a high-quality experience in terms of the facilities, the coaching, and the camaraderie on the team,” Wolf said.

Fox said that Wolf is well-suited to be a Senator, since he is loyal, understanding, and compassionate. She also highlighted his caring nature.

“He truly cares and wants to do the right thing,” she said. “He sees through nonsense and ego, and he is a very selfless leader.”

Scannapieco noted that Wolf always does the right thing, and that he stands up for everyone. He also said that Wolf has a strong sense of integrity and connects with the people who he leads.

Outside of campaigning, Wolf enjoys watching “South Park,” and spending time with his four kids. He watches and attends his kids’ sporting events, since three of his kids play on their respective college sports teams. Wolf also enjoys the opera and reading, and tries to visit the gym three times a week, where he trains with the same regimen he used during his Olympic bid.

 

Image Courtesy ctpost.com

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