By Dan Primack
February 3, 2012

Private equity pulls out its checkbook.

The Private Equity & Growth Capital Council has been getting lots of media attention this week for its decision to launch a multi-million dollar “education” campaign. What’s gone under the radar, however, is that the trade group also has formed a political action committee.

PEGCC was formed in 2007 by a small group of the nation’s largest private equity firms, including The Blackstone Group

, The Carlyle Group and Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co.

. It has since expanded to 36 member firms, including many smaller shops like Francisco Partners and Irving Place Capital. Original member Bain Capital is no longer part of the group, while Thomas H. Lee Partners dropped out but recently rejoined.

The political action committee was quietly formed last April, but didn’t begin making contributions until last summer.

According to its recent disclosures to the Federal Election Commission, the Private Equity Growth Capital Council PAC has taken in around $267,000 and disbursed over $98,000. Of the outlays, around two-thirds have gone to Republican Party candidates and causes. This includes $10,000 in contributions to both Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-AL).

The largest Democratic recipients were Sen. Tim Johnson (D-SD) and Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-NY) with $5,000 a piece.

I also took a look at 2011 contributions by VenturePAC, a longstanding political action committee operated by the National Venture Capital Association. It shows $222,500 in contributions to Republican candidates and causes last year, compared to $210,000 to Democrats. VenturePAC typically keeps a fairly even partisan balance, owing to varied policy interests that include a a maintenance of carried interest as a capital gains, increased federal spending on scientific R&D and loosened immigration rules for foreign professionals.

VenturePAC does not support presidential candidates, due to the split (and sometimes fierce) loyalties of its members. No word yet on its the PEGCC PAC plans to back a presidential nominee.

Update: PECGG spokesman Ken Spain says the PAC will not support presidential or state-level candidates. He adds:

“Over the last four years, the Private Equity Growth Capital Council has sought to build an effective education and advocacy program for the private equity industry. The formation of the Private Equity Growth Capital Council PAC last spring represents a logical next step in our maturation as the industry’s leading voice and that includes supporting members of congress who understand the important role that private equity plays in driving economic growth, strengthening businesses and providing financial security to millions of Americans by delivering superior returns to public and private pension funds.”

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