Congress

How Eric Cantor Got a Job on Wall Street

The former House Republican has close ties to the investment industry.

National Journal
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Marina Koren
Sept. 2, 2014, 4:18 a.m.

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.

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