Was Senator Edwards Being Hypocritical by Working at a Hedge Fund?

I’m curious what readers think about this. After coming up short in his bid to become Vice President in 2004, Senator John Edwards worked for Fortress Investment Group (FIG) as a consultant. Given that Edwards has been focusing his political campaigning on helping solve the poverty problem in our country, is he being a hypocrite by working for a hedge fund, whose main job is helping rich people get even richer?

I’m not sure where I fall on this issue. At first blush it does seem like a questionable decision on his part. However, does the fact that he worked for Fortress really mean he is somehow abandoning the poor? Fortress is going to do what they do regardless of whether or not Edwards is there. There is no way his role at the firm had any financial benefit for Fortress clients. He might have given them a well respected politician in their corner, but he didn’t boost their investment returns, so he didn’t directly help the rich get richer. That is going to happen regardless.

Of course, Edwards is going to say it was, in part, a learning experience. He clearly doesn’t have much financial markets knowledge. But he did admit that the money was nice too. Does someone who supposedly wants to help the poor have to purposely avoid earning a nice living because of his political platform?

It’s an interesting topic. I’m curious to hear what you all think. And I know it’s a political discussion, but let’s keep it polite, not partisan. We can speak in terms of politicians in general, regardless of party affiliation.

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7 Thoughts on “Was Senator Edwards Being Hypocritical by Working at a Hedge Fund?

  1. Anonymous on May 15, 2007 at 3:55 AM said:

    It really doesn’t matter.Hedge Funds have not been shown to be adverse to teaching Business sense.

  2. Anonymous on May 15, 2007 at 6:36 AM said:

    Edwards is a hypocrite but not for this paticular reason. If you build a super duper mega mansion then tell everyone else to sacrifice and conserve you are a hypocrite.

    Also your question seems to imply that you think the world is a zero sum game. Rich people on the whole make poor peoples lives better.

  3. mOOm on May 15, 2007 at 10:54 AM said:

    He was reported as saying that he did it to learn about the relationship between global markets and poverty. Which makes no sense. Otherwise I don’t have a problem with it, though wonder what they got out of him?

  4. Anonymous on May 15, 2007 at 11:40 AM said:

    Why is there the assumption that Edwards did not make any money for the clients of Fortress? I don’t think hedge funds hire politicians for the fun of it. I imagine that Edwards offered some insight that was valuable to Fortress (maybe a connection that helped cement a deal or an insight in to a potential deal opportunity). Does anyone even know exactly what he did every day while he was there?

  5. Chad Brand on May 15, 2007 at 4:21 PM said:

    Obviously I can’t confirm that he didn’t make money for their trading operations, but I would assume he was there because of who he was, not what he brought to the investment team. I don’t see how he would have any valuable insights that the Fortress employees lacked. Probably more of a promotional thing for FIG, and of course, Edwards gets rich donors out of it.

  6. James on May 16, 2007 at 1:41 PM said:

    I think Edwards was hired for fundraising purposes. That’s the only thing that makes much sense to me. So his presence probably helped make the partners of richer, increasing their AUM for a larger mgt. fee.

  7. James Cullen on May 17, 2007 at 12:02 PM said:

    I agree with the anonymous comment about Edwards being a hypocrite, but not for this reason alone. Given his legal background and string of successful (large) verdicts, anyone who thinks Edwards’ financial situation in the last 20 years or so relates in any way to that of the “working class” is kidding themselves.
    That said, I still don’t think Edwards is a bad guy. Everyone picks their target base and what he says he wants to do is noble, even if it involves doing a dance around his wealth.

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