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Politicians continue push into PE

Adam Lewis

The private equity industry has enjoyed a cozy relationship with the political establishment for decades, with many public servants joining firms offering lucrative paydays after their political careers end. There's perhaps no better example than former US President George H.W. Bush becoming part of The Carlyle Group, a private equity behemoth with headquarters on Pennsylvania Avenue, after his one term in the White House ended. 

But he was not alone. Former President Bill Clinton worked from 2001 to 2009 in an advisory role at The Yucaipa Companies, a Los Angeles-based private equity firm led by friend and mega-billionaire Ron Burkle. Newt Gingrich, former speaker of the US House of Representatives, has worked since 2016 at Georgia-base Jam Capital Partners, where his responsibilities include business development and "portfolio company activities," per Jam Capital's website.

The list of politicians jumping into PE is fairly extensive. And it can go both ways, as former PE execs such as Mitt Romney, formerly of Bain Capital, have used their fortunes amassed in the private space to run for office. On the flip side, former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick joined Bain Capital in 2015 to help lead its impact investing division. 

Maybe it's because the alternative investment industry is booming in general. Or the fact that US politics have become so divisive. But the pattern of former politicians joining the PE ranks has continued over the past year or so.

Here are five big political names who are now probably cashing substantially larger paychecks in the private equity world.  John Bolton: Rhône Group Earlier this week, Rhône Group reappointed John Bolton as a senior advisor, a job he had held for more than a decade before President Donald Trump brought him on as White House national security advisor in May 2018. Known for his combative approach, Bolton and Trump reportedly had a number of disputes about foreign policy before Bolton left the post this month. At Rhône, the 70-year-old will advise the firm and its portfolio companies on geopolitical and economic issues. With offices in New York and London, Rhone is currently investing out of its fifth flagship private equity fund, which closed on €2.6 billion (about $2.85 billion) in 2015.  Paul Ryan: Seidler Equity Partners Once the darling of the Republican Party for his fresh appearance and Ayn Rand-inspired conservative views, former US House Speaker Paul Ryan shocked the political world in April 2018 when he announced he wouldn't seek reelection at the end of the year. Ryan joined the board of Fox this past March. It's less clear the exact date he joined Los Angeles-based private equity firm Seidler Equity Partners the firm's website lists the 49-year-old as senior advisor who joined in 2019. He’s apparently involved in partner company strategic planning and new deal generation. Paul Ryan's brother, Tobin Ryan, is a partner at SEP that's been at the firm since 2009. Rahm Emanuel: Centerview Partners  In June, Centerview Partners brought on former two-term Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel as a senior counselor based in the firm's Chicago office. A former Chief of Staff to President Barack Obama, Emanuel also served in the US House from 2003 to 2009 and prior to that was a managing director at investment banking firm Wasserstein Perella Weinberg in Chicago. Founded in 2006, Centerview Partners offers a range of strategic advisory services to PE-backed clients.  Gordon Brown: Partners Group  Gordon Brown has some experience dealing with the financial world, having helped steer the UK through the global financial crisis as prime minister from 2007 to 2010. And in January, the former member of the UK's left-leaning Labour Party joined Swiss private equity shop Partners Group as an advisor on the impact investing team. His duties reportedly include serving on the firm's impact investing fund advisory council as the $1 billion vehicle makes investments aimed at fighting poverty and improving healthcare and education. Drew Maloney: American Investment Council  In June 2018, the American Investment Council announced Drew Maloney would become its new president and CEO in August, succeeding Mike Sommers. Maloney was previously the assistant secretary for legislative affairs at the US Department of Treasury, working under Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin. The AIC has become increasingly significant over the last few years, serving as a Washington DC-based advocacy group for a private equity industry that's received increased scrutiny from media and Democratic presidential candidates including Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, among other politicians.

Featured image of John Bolton via Gage Skidmore/CC by 2.0

Related read: Untangling the Trump Administration's private equity ties