Private funds turn to New Jersey Dem

New Jersey Democrat Josh Gottheimer has raised more money from private equity, hedge funds and venture capital funds than any other House candidate.

Private fund advisors, who were already betting on a Democratic victory on November 3, have turned to a New Jersey Congressman to help protect them from his party’s left wing.

Josh Gottheimer, 45, is an attorney and former political speechwriter for Democrats including Bill and Hillary Clinton, Wes Clark and John Kerry. In November, he won his third term in Congress from New Jersey’s Fifth Congressional District.

Private funds were with him all the way, federal election data show. Ahead of the elections, he’s raised more than $1 million from some of private funds’ biggest names, including Apollo Global Management co-founder and CEO Leon Black, CCO Cindy Michel and general counsel John Sudyam, BlackStone president and CEO Jonathan Gray, 8VC founder Joe Lonsdale, Carlyle Group managing director Jim Attwood and Bain Capital co-chairman Josh Bekenstein, records kept by the Federal Elections Commission show.

Tip of the spear

As sister title Regulator Compliance Watch reported, this election cycle marks the first time since 2008 that investment advisors and other financial services’ professionals have given more to Democrats than Republicans, federal data show. Gottheimer is the tip of that spear: no other House of Representatives candidate has raised more from the financial services industry than Gottheimer’s $1.2 million, data tracked by the nonprofit campaign finance reform advocate The Center for Responsive Politics show.

The relationship is even deeper than that: his former legislative director, Mike Lukso, is the top lobbyist at the American Investment Council.

Gottheimer said he’s merely looking after his constituents.

“New Jersey has a robust financial services sector that directly employs tens of thousands of residents, contributing billions of dollars in wages, not to mention the indirect jobs created by this economic activity,” he said in an e-mail statement to RCW, sent through a spokesman.

Difficult position

Despite the mounds of cash, Gottheimer is still in a difficult position. New Jersey’s Fifth District is a conservative bastion in an otherwise left-leaning state that covers most of Warren, Sussex, Passaic and Bergen Counties.

Meanwhile, some of his party’s biggest stars – including Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren and New York congresswoman Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez – are trying to pull the Democrats left, especially where private funds are concerned. Earlier this year, Gottheimer fended off a primary challenge from his left. His opponent – Glen Rock neuroscientist Arati Kreibichmade much of his relationship with private equity.

Gottheimer, who briefly was an advisor at the Federal Communications Commission in 2010, said he learned from the experience that light-touch regulation can work wonders if everyone is being open and honest in their dealings.

“I believe that to protect consumers and investors, there must be smart safeguards in place, and they should be reviewed regularly as markets evolve, such as the burgeoning fintech space,” he said.