Obama’s Commerce pick has private equity ties

Jun 01, 2011

President Obama yesterday nominated John Bryson to lead the Commerce Department, where he would succeed Gary Locke (who is succeeding John Huntsman as Ambassador to China).

Most media coverage has focused on Bryson’s tenure as chairman and CEO of California energy company Edison International, and his co-founding of the Natural Resources Defense Council (back in 1970). But Bryson has held a different job since August 2008: Senior advisor at private equity giant Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. (kkr).

Bryson joined KKR to focus on infrastructure investments, back when the firm was hoping to raise up to $4 billion for an infrastructure-focused fund. In the end, however, KKR Infrastructure only secured $500 million, and the guy hired to run infrastructure investing (George Bilicic) quickly left to rejoin his old firm (Lazard).

I asked KKR for information on what Bryson actually did for the firm, including what deals he might have worked on. Unfortunately, all I got was a statement from KKR Energy & Infrastructure chief Marc Lipschultz, saying that he has been “a valuable advisor to the firm,” and “always had great insights into the world of government and business.”

I assume that the Senate will have better luck, so long as Republicans don't simply follow through on their threat to block any Commerce nominee...

All products and services featured are based solely on editorial selection. FORTUNE may receive compensation for some links to products and services on this website.

Quotes delayed at least 15 minutes. Market data provided by Interactive Data. ETF and Mutual Fund data provided by Morningstar, Inc. Dow Jones Terms & Conditions: http://www.djindexes.com/mdsidx/html/tandc/indexestandcs.html. S&P Index data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. Terms & Conditions. Powered and implemented by Interactive Data Managed Solutions