Democratic Gains May Impact Hedge Fund Landscape

Nov 8 2006 | 11:39am ET

Democratic gains in both house of the U.S. Congress is yesterday’s mid-term election has the potential to shift the debate on hedge fund regulation.

With gains of upward of 30 seats and control assured in the House of Representatives, Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass. -- pictured) is set to become the next chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, succeeding the retiring Rep. Michael Oxley (R-Ohio). In the past, Rep. Frank has called for stricter hedge fund oversight and regulation, but in recent months has tempered his language.

In addition, Rep. Paul Kanjorski (D-Pa.), who has called for empowering the Securities and Exchange Commission to regulate hedge funds, is set to become the next chairman of the Financial Institutions subcommittee, and Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) will chair the Oversight and Investigations subcommittee.

Should the Democrats wrest control of the Senate—currently, Democratic candidates are leading in the last two undecided races, Montana and Virginia; the party must win both for control—several powerful legislators from hedge fund country are likely to have a big role in the debate. Like his House counterpart on the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, the top Democrat on the Senate Banking Committee, Sen. Paul Sarbanes (D-Md.) is leaving Congress, but New York’s Charles Schumer – the architect of the Democrat’s 2006 Senate campaign – and Connecticut’s Chris Dodd are the ranking Democrats on a pair of crucial subcommittees.

Of course, in the financial world, all politics is not national, and Wall Street may have breathed a sigh of relief: Eliot Spitzer will no longer be New York’s attorney general come January. He will, however, become the state’s next governor, having won the election in a landslide, largely on the back of his reputation as the sheriff of Wall Street. Of course, hedge funds emerged largely unscathed in his attacks on investments banking research and mutual fund market-timing, so it remains to be seen how a Gov. Spitzer will handle the large hedge fund presence in his state.

Meanwhile, Rep. Chris Shay (R-Conn.), who represents Greenwich and other hedge fund hotspots close to New York, fended off a stout challenge from Democrat Diane Farrell, holding his seat by less than 7,000 votes. Hedge fund manager Phil Maymin of Maymin Capital Management, running as a Libertarian in that district, took just about 1% of the vote, not enough to sway the race in one direction or the other. The other “hedge fund candidate,” Democratic Senate hopeful Jack Carter of Nevada, who ran a hedge fund in Bermuda for six years, fell far short in his battle with Republican incumbent Jon Kyl, who scored a 55%-41% victory.


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