Economy & Budget

You know who else is a ‘vampire’ capitalist? The co-chair of Obama’s reelection campaign

If “vampire capitalists” are destroying this country, why is Federico Pena co-chairing President Barack Obama’s national re-election campaign?

President Obama’s campaign has unbundled its slash-and-burn attack on private equity, creative destruction and various other “unfair” capitalistic realities. The attacks don’t seem to be sticking, apparently, as Obama is losing ground in some major swing states according to polls. It certainly doesn’t help that other Democrats haven’t exactly gotten with the program.

Obama isn’t immune from hypocrisy on the issue, what with the $35,800-a-head fundraising dinners at private equity HQ.  Obama raised far more cash from hedge fund and private equity “vampires” than any other candidate in the 2008.

The campaign will tell you there is good private equity and bad private equity. It all depends on who they send campaign cash to, evidently.

Pena, who was Transportation and Energy Secretary during the Clinton administration, did not endorse Hillary Clinton during the 2008 Democratic primaries. He did, however, become Obama’s National Campaign Co-chair in 2008 — as he will likewise do this year — and also a member of the advisory board of the Obama-Biden Transition Project.

He’s also one of those vulture capitalists. Pena has been a partner at venture capital firm Vestar Capital. The good folks at Complete Colorado report on the specifics:

In March of 2011, Vestar acquired 100% of Del Monte Foods through a leveraged buyout.

Just two weeks ago, Del Monte announced the closure of a plant in Kingsburg, Califoria, effectively slashing 1000 jobs. “I am extraordinarily disappointed by Del Monte to make this decision,” Kingsburg Mayor Bruce Blayney told the Kingsburg Recorder. “This is a major blow to the local economy.”

Roughly eight years ago, Vestar purchased the Solo Cup Company.

According to this report, in 2007, Solo Cup Co. (with Vestar as a parent firm) shuttered three factories. As early as 2010, with Vestar still as the parent company, Solo Cup announced plans to shut an eight-decades old factory, ending more than 540 jobs.

In 2002, Vestar acquired frozen food giant, BirdsEye Foods.

In 2006, Vestar laid off approximately 500 workers at BirdsEye. “Some of them were employed at Birdseye for 15 to 30 years,” according to KGO Ch. 7 in San Fransico.

You may not have a problem with any of the above — I certainly don’t — but surely this meets the Bain Capital criteria.

Now, Colorado is generally thought of as a swing state. Having spent over seven years covering politics in the state, I tend to think this is wishful thinking. With two Democratic senators, a Democratic governor and a state that went for Obama rather easily in 2008, Mitt Romney surely has his work cut out for him — though, the prevailing view is that he has a shot. Pena is important in this regard.

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