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Thursday, July 06, 2006

Dan Quayle cited in story on buy-out firms

Former Vice-President Dan Quayle is Global Chairman of Cerberus Capital Management LP.

The Wall Street Journal has taken note of the dozen former high ranking governmental officials who have taken positions with a variety of buy-out firms. Former Senate Democrat leader Tom Daschle is the most recent to join up. The article also cited Bill Clinton, Colin Powell, former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill and the Carlyle Group's history of hiring former President George H.W. Bush, former Secretary of State James Baker and former Secretary of Defense Frank Carlucci.

About Mr. Quayle, the Wall Street Journal's Tennille Tracy wrote:

Because former politicians hold so much influence within the Washington Beltway, it seems logical that private-equity firms also want them to act as de facto lobbyists on regulatory matters. Such a move would make sense because buyout firms, while holding increasingly high profiles, still lack a trade organization to represent them in government affairs. Venture-capital firms, on the other hand, have the Arlington, Va., National Venture Capital Association to speak on their behalf.

Most private-equity firms deny any suggestion that their politicians-turned-financiers serve in that capacity.

"The notion or suspicion that they are lobbying on behalf of their firms is completely false," Mr. Ullman said. "It's just not necessary, and they have reputations they want to uphold as well."

Despite such protestations, it's probably safe to assume that these hires engage in some activities that could be construed as lobbying. Former Vice President Dan Quayle, for example, now chairman of Cerberus Capital Management LP's advisory board, said on his official Web site that he meets regularly with "American politicians and regulators with respect to issues affecting Cerberus' investments." Neither Mr. Quayle nor his spokesman responded to requests for comment about these activities.

Regardless of whether they sign up former politicians, hire formal lobbyists or form a trade organization, private-equity firms have plenty of reasons to be involved in Washington's affairs these days. The Securities and Exchange Commission's attempts to regulate hedge funds are continuing. Also, Congress could always consider legislation concerning capital-gains taxes or Sarbanes-Oxley requirements that might affect their operations.

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