PE Council Hires Senate Insider

You are the private equity industry trade group, and a certain U.S. Senator is proposing legislation that would raise your taxes. Who should you hire to lobby on your behalf?

First choice would probably be that senator’s spouse or children. Plan B would be the senator’s chief of staff. This is an easier get, as senatorial staffers don’t have high salaries, and you have money to spend (but not to pay taxes with).

Apparently Chuck Grassley’s wife Barbara and five children were otherwise engaged, because the Private Equity Council has retained Ken Cunningham, Grassley’s former chief of staff and general counsel.

Cunningham is representing the trade group in its fight against any legislation that would increase taxes on private equity firms. This includes the bi-partisan bill introduced by Grassley and Max Baucus (so-called “Blackstone Bill”), which would more than double the taxes paid by publicly-traded private equity firms. The Senate also may craft its own version of the broader carried interest tax bill, which currently is stalled in the House.
lobbyist[1]Cunningham left Grassley’s office in early 2006 to launch his own lobbying firm, and also has been paid to fight tax hikes by Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP, on behalf of KKR.

He does not yet have to disclose how much he’s getting paid by his newest clients, but here’s some context: Cunningham made just $78,215 in his last full year working for Grassley. Last year, he pulled down $255k in lobbying fees from clients Amgen, Vern Clark & Associates and Verizon. Not hard to understand the shift in loyalties…