“After Big Bet, Hedge Fund Pulls the Levers of Power”

Important and extensive NYT report:

Regulators frequently get entreaties from financiers urging action for their own financial gain, like the hedge fund executives who in 2010 tried to secretly push Obama administration officials to investigate for-profit colleges, again citing fraudulent industry practices, after betting that their stocks would decline.

But Mr. Ackman’s efforts illustrate how Washington is increasingly becoming a battleground of Wall Street’s financial titans, whose interest in influencing public policy is driven primarily by a desire for profit — part of an expanding practice in the nation’s capital, with corporations, law firms and lobbying practices establishing political intelligence units to gather news they can trade on.

So far, Mr. Ackman has persuaded four members of Congress, a New York State senator, a City Council member in Boston, the majority leader of the Nevada Senate and other elected officials in California to join the cause. Prominent consumer advocates in Washington, as well as leaders of well-respected Hispanic and African-American community groups who have been lobbied by Mr. Ackman’s team, have also written regulators demanding action.

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