PE Council hires lobbyist

The Private Equity Council has retained Ken Cunningham to lobby against corporate taxes on buyout firms.

Cunningham is the former chief of staff for Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), who has introduced a bill in Congress to raise corporate taxes on buyout firms. Cunningham, who was also Grassley’s general counsel, left the senator’s office in early 2006 to start his own lobbying firm.

The Private Equity Council is a Washington, D.C.-based trade group representing 11 firms, including the Carlyle Group and the Blackstone Group. Cunningham was also retained by Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld on behalf of buyout firm Kohlberg Kravis & Roberts Co. to lobby on the same matter.

Grassley and Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) introduced legislation this past summer (the so-called “Blackstone Bill”) that would more than double the tax burden to a corporate tax rate of 35% from the current capital gains rate of 15% on private equity firms that become publicly traded, such as Blackstone.

The U.S. Senate is also discussing whether to raise taxes on the share of investment profits received by private equity and hedge fund managers, also known as carried interest, from 15% to as much as 35 percent. —Dan Primack