For Eric Cantor, back-to-school season means getting a new job.
The Republican will join the investment bank Moelis & Co. as vice chairman and board member this week, eventually opening a new office in Washington. Cantor and Moelis founder Ken Moelis announced the move in an interview on Monday with The Wall Street Journal.
The Virginia lawmaker was defeated in his June primary by David Brat in an election outcome no one saw coming — not even Cantor’s pollster. Cantor stepped down from his post as House majority leader at the end of July, and left Congress altogether soon after.
The Journal explains how Cantor and Moelis linked up:
Messrs. Moelis and Cantor, who have known each other for more than three years, began discussing the possibility of working together shortly before July Fourth, Mr. Cantor said. They were having brunch with their wives in Los Angeles, and Mr. Moelis, also a Republican, was giving Mr. Cantor career advice when it occurred to him that the two should work together.
The talks intensified in late July, said Mr. Cantor, who noted that he held discussions about joining several other organizations — on Wall Street and off — though none as serious as those with Moelis.
And why Moelis hired the former No. 2 House Republican:
Mr. Moelis said he is hiring Mr. Cantor for his “judgment and experience” and ability to open doors — and not just for help navigating regulatory and political waters in Washington. Still, expertise in such matters is likely to be valuable given how heavily they can weigh on the minds of corporate executives contemplating deals.
“I have no need for a political figurehead,” Mr. Moelis said. “What I want is a partner.”
Cantor will receive a $400,000 annual base salary, according to an SEC filing released Tuesday. Tack on signing bonuses and other compensation, and Cantor will bring in about $3.4 million in the next two years.
After his election loss, Cantor fielded many questions about what was next. Would he run for governor in Virginia? Go to K Street? Try again in Congress? Wherever he landed, Cantor said repeatedly in the days after his defeat that he would continue to “be a champion for the conservative cause.”
Cantor’s decision to join an investment firm is not surprising. The lawmaker had been a longtime supporter of Wall Street on the Hill. Wall Street has reciprocated in kind; the biggest donors to Cantor’s last campaign came from the securities and investment industry, and top contributors include investment banks Goldman Sachs and the Blackstone Group.
In June, Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein said he was stunned by Cantor’s loss. “I hope it doesn’t mean that it will be impossible from this point forward to compromise on issues like the budget, on immigration policy, or any other issues that are wracking the country,” he told CNBC.
Wall Street may have lost an ally on Capitol Hill this summer, but it’s getting him back on its turf this fall.
This story has been updated with more information.