Tags: | Mitt Romney | private | equity | attack | campaign

Campaigning Candidates of Both Parties Blast Private Equity

By    |   Wednesday, 15 Oct 2014 08:41 PM

Private equity is coming under attack on the campaign trial —  two years after Democrats blasted the industry that made Mitt Romney rich and called it a job-killer.

This time the attacks are coming from incumbent governors and senators in states including Kansas, Connecticut and Illinois —  but they follow the Democratic playbook during Romney's 2012 White House bid of digging into a wealthy challenger's portfolio to reveal unflattering investments, then magnifying them to "define the candidate's entire private-sector career," Politico reports.

For example, in Illinois, Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn paints Republican private equity mogul Bruce Rauner as a "billionaire" whose private equity work has bankrupted nursing homes and mortgage lenders, Politico reports.

Allies of Connecticut Democratic Gov. Dannel Malloy created an ad accusing challenger Tom Foley, a former private equity executive, of giving workers the "short end of the stick" while profiting himself, Politico reports.

The GOP isn't eschewing the tactic, either.

Kansas Republican Sen. Pat Roberts has slammed Greg Orman, founder of a private equity firm, for being a "shady businessman" who invested money with an incarcerated former Goldman Sachs executive, Politico reports.

"What [private equity] companies do and their business makes for a very easy target for people to twist and bend and simplistically attack," Bill Daley, President Barack Obama's former chief of staff, told Politico.

"It's tailor-made for a political consultant to attack. All you need is a few facts. You don't need a lot of them. You sure don't need truth."

Daley, who currently works at a Swiss hedge fund and previously served as vice chairman of the private equity firm Evercore Capital Partners, added: "Basically, the whole Quinn campaign is to trash [Rauner] for his [private equity] stuff."

Private equity's business model makes it vulnerable to political criticism, Politico notes: its goal, after all, is to acquire companies and increase returns for investors — even if the end result is to shutter a business or cut jobs.

It's also true that private equity firms have jobs sought by federal officials once they leave government —  including former Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and former CIA Director David Petraeus, Politico reports.

Yet there were lessons learned from the Romney campaign experience, Politico says.

Former Illinois GOP Chairman Pat Brady told Politico that Rauner has done a better job of touting the benefits of private equity, and has been more open with voters about his personal and charitable contributions to his local community.

"It just seemed like the good part of the business experience, charitable works, the things that he did that were helpful to the people in need, never really got out in the Romney campaign," Brady told Politico. "People here in the city know of [Rauner] and respect him and know that he's been a very generous and hardworking guy."

Veteran Clinton adviser Paul Begala —  one of the leaders of the Obama super-PAC that ran ads slamming Romney's role at Bain Capital, Politico notes —  predicted that private equity will attract political attacks as long as inequality is an issue.

"As long as median income is stuck, I think these kinds of issues are likely to be very powerful," Begala told Politico.

"The killer for Mitt was the heads-I-win, heads-you-lose aspect of so many of his deals. . . . That's what they hated: people getting laid off, losing their pension, losing their healthcare, and Romney walking away with millions."

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Private equity is coming under attack on the campaign trial – two years after Democrats blasted the industry that made Mitt Romney rich and called it a job-killer.
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Wednesday, 15 Oct 2014 08:41 PM
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