John Edwards, man of the people, turns out to be also a man of the hedge funds. John Solomon and Alec MacGillis, writing in the Washington Post, expose his ties to one of those bastions of the wealthy, avoiding taxes by offshore registration, and earning high investment returns through trading tactics unavailable to the small guys.
Two years ago, former senator John Edwards of North Carolina, gearing up for his second run at the Democratic presidential nomination, gave a speech decrying the "two different economies in this country: one for wealthy insiders and then one for everybody else."
Four months later, he began working for the kind of firm that to many Wall Street critics embodies the economy of wealthy insiders -- a hedge fund.
Edwards became a consultant for Fortress Investment Group, a New York-based firm known mainly for its hedge funds, just as the funds were gaining prominence in the financial world -- and in the public consciousness, where awe over their outsize returns has mixed with misgivings about a rarefied industry that is, on the whole, run by and for extremely wealthy people and operates largely in secrecy.
Fortress announced Edwards's hiring as an adviser in a brief statement in October 2005. Neither Edwards -- who ended his consulting deal when he launched his presidential campaign in December -- nor the firm will say how much he earned or what he did. [snip]
But his ties to Fortress were suggested by the first round of campaign finance reports released last week. They showed that Edwards raised $167,460 in donations from Fortress employees for his 2008 presidential campaign, his largest source of support from a single company.
Nearly 100 Fortress employees or their family members donated to Edwards around the time of a fundraiser his campaign held at the firm in mid-March. Senior executives, individual fund managers, lawyers and a secretary gave the maximum $2,300 donations. Three administrative or executive assistants gave smaller amounts.
I suppose there are many voters who will continue to buy the notion that Edwards is a genuine populist. But judge a man by his deeds, and the story becomes a harder and harder sell.
Hat tip: Ed Lasky