Barney Frank Says: Don’t Mess with VCs or Angels

Barney Frank was crystal clear in his briefing with a group of CEOs that I participated in this afternoon: He is going to make sure that the final Financial Reform bill that gets worked out with the Senate won’t mess with the angel or VC communities.

I came to Washington DC today with the Progressive Business Leaders Network (PBLN) group that I co-chair. It was our group’s annual trek to DC where 80 CEOs and business leaders from Massachusetts had the opportunity to dialog with the leadership from the congressional and executive branch.  We met with Congressman Markey to talk about cap and trade (Senator Kerry is releasing his bill tomorrow and one of his staffers briefed us on its content), Senator Warner to discuss innovation investments and deficit reduction, and Congressmen Frank and Capuano to talk about financial reform.

On Financial Reform, Barney Frank was very direct when I pressed him on the myriad restrictions that are being discussed in the Senate bill around angel investing and the discussions about taxing carried interest.

Here’s what he said:

  • “We will exempt venture capital from the carried interest tax.”
  • “We will not tighten the regulations on angel investing.”
  • “We will fight back on any attempts to regulate or register venture capital funds.”
  • “When this is passed, we will look to loosed RegA to facilitate IPOs.”
  • He confidently stated that the Senate would pass a bill by Memorial Day and that the reconciliation process would be done such that the President would sign a bill by the 4th of July.

Encouraging support from a powerful source – let’s hope he follows through!

If you want to lend your support on this issue, keep track of the NVCA’s activities and write your own representative.  Mark Heesen, NVCA executive director, wrote an email to thousands of VCs today stating: “This morning we delivered the letter to every U.S. Senator with more than 1700 signatures from 41 states plus the District of Columbia. You can view the letter here and our corresponding press release here.”

President Obama’s staffers told us:  “We understand that start-ups and entrepreneurs are the key to leading the US out of the recession.”

Again, let’s hope both sides of the aisle get the message.

Jeff is a partner with Boston-based VC firm Flybridge Capital Partners. Read his past peHUB posts, or follow him on Twitter at