It’s a Fair Bet That Barack Obama Will Attack Mitt Romney’s Private Equity Past

by Pejman Yousefzadeh on January 14, 2012

Which is why this article needs to get a lot of play:

. . . Obama may have some private equity questions of his own to answer, having both taken donations from the industry and appointed a number of private equity veterans to his administration.

The most prominent among them is Jack Lew, the new White House chief of staff, who was previously a managing director at Citi Alternative Investments. Nancy-Ann DeParle, a deputy chief of staff who helped lead the president’s health care reform effort, was a managing director at CCMP Capital.

Jeffrey Goldstein, the recently-departed undersecretary of the Treasury for Domestic Finance, was a managing director at Hellman & Friedman before he joined the administration. He’s returning to the private equity firm now that he has resigned. Former auto czar Steve Rattner came out of the world of private equity before briefly working with the administration, and defended Bain Capital from attacks in a POLITICO op-ed this week.

A number of Obama advisory board members and lower-profile appointees have also had private equity on their resumes. Mark Gallogly of Centerbridge Partners, and formerly of the Blackstone Group, was on the President’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board. Richard Parsons, the former Time Warner executive on the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, is also linked to Providence Equity Partners Inc. Walter Jones, the U.S. executive director of the African Development Bank, was a senior private equity executive with Gravitas Capital Advisors.

There are other private equity connections on the President’s Management Advisory Board, the Board for International Food and Agriculture Development, the National Infrastructure Advisory Council and the Advisory Committee of the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation.

In light of that, one private equity insider suggested to me in an email: “If President Obama plans to campaign against Mitt Romney and the alleged evils of private equity, then he will need to start by purging the ranks of his own administration.”

We know, of course, that garden-variety hypocrisy won’t stop Team Obama from launching the attacks, and from trying to make private equity work look like financial piracy. But if and when the attacks come, they ought to be combated with reference to stories like the one referenced in this post. Of course, it goes without saying that Team Romney has to be competent enough to point out just how hypocritical the attacks are. But it ought to also go without saying that the news media has to be honest enough to state clearly and insistently that when it comes to attacking Mitt Romney and private equity, Team Obama will be treading on dangerously thin ice.

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