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Bob Grady Turns Down NJ Treasurer Job

From public service to private equity and back again?

That was the tidy career circle recently offered to Bob Grady, the former Bush 41 official who went on to spend more than nine years as a venture capital and growth investor with The Carlyle Group. As first reported by Private Equity Online, and since confirmed by peHUB, Grady recently declined an offer by recently-elected New Jersey Governor Chris Christie to serve as the Garden State’s next trasurer (an appointed position).

Grady originally is a Jersey boy, having grown up in the same town as Christie and beginning his career in state politics. More recently, he agreed to co-chair a budgetary task force for Christie, and could eventually serve on some sort of economic advisory council.

So why did he turn down a chance to help salvage his home state’s financial woes? One reason is that Grady last October agreed to serve as a managing director with Cheyenne Capital Fund, a Jackson Hole-based private equity firm whose $350 million debut vehicle is designed to make both direct and indirect (i.e., fund-of-funds) investments. I also hear that he’ll soon take on a venture partner role in Silicon Valley and a senior advisor role with a private equity firm.

Another explanation related to location. Grady might be from New Jersey, but that was a long time ago. He had been based in San Francisco while with Carlyle Group, and had kept a vacation home in Jackson Hole. He’s now switched primary residences, and both are more appealing than Trenton (in fact, I’d wager that no one’s ever left Jackson Hole for Trenton on their own accord).

Grady declined to comment.

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Having been CEO of AIG since the 1960s, only to resign in 2005 amidst a major accounting scandal, you could perhaps forgive him if he doesn’t.

Maurice `Hank’ Greenberg...

Pagliuca Reflects On His Senate Race

As regular readers surely know, I have two primary addictions: Politics and sports (well, three addictions if you include cheese, but that isn’t relevant to this particular item). So when the two overlap with what I get paid the big bucks to cover, I get all geeky about it.

That’s why I devoted a few posts late last year to the senatorial aspirations of Steve Pagliuca, the Bain Capital managing director who also owns a slice of the beloved Celtics. Now that the campaign is over – Pagliuca came in fourth out of four major candidates in the Democratic primary – I wanted to know what he took away from it, the pros/cons of a PE pro running for public office and if he might run again.

What’s your top take-away, from a policy perspective?

“We have a long-term issue from an ‘on the ground’ perspective with jobs, based on investments we should have made in job training and education, but didn’t.”

On his private equity background:

“I think the general populace went through an education process. It was one of the positives of the campaign, in that people learned what the investment business does, why it’s a good thing and the benefits of applying some of its lessons to the U.S. economy.”

I did ask why his second TV ad – the “biography” seemed to jump directly from his college job moving boxes to his Celtics stewardship – and if that was to downplay any PE stigma. He said he didn’t realize the ad had done that, and that he’d have to look at it again.

On lessons for other PE pros considering political runs:

“The main thing I learned is that you can’t argue with who you are. As soon as you try to start being something you’re not, people see through it… Be yourself and then emphasize your strengths. You don’t have to run away from the investment business.”

Worth the run?

“I’m extremely glad I ran. I think I changed and drove the focus of what we talked about, in terms of jobs and healthcare. I also learned a lot, getting out of the ivory tower and back to my roots. There are fantastic people all over Massachusetts, and I feel for them because this recession is different than any other. There are so many competent people unemployed, and we’ve got to find a way to get them back to work.”

Beginning of a political career?

“This race was really a unique circumstance, in that it was Ted Kennedy’s seat. It also happened to be an election in which the issues were healthcare and job creation and global employment — all issues where I have 25 years of international experience that is a good fit with the role of a Senator. Being in the Senate deals with those issues, in a way that being, say, Governor doesn’t.”

I also asked Pagliuca if he’d continue to use the Twitter account he set up during the race. He replied positively but not necessarily affirmatively, if that makes sense…

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