When then-House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) suffered a stunning primary defeat in June, it marked the unexpected end of a promising political career. It was tough, however, to feel too bad for the conservative Virginian – the question wasn’t whether Cantor would cash in, but where.
After initially promising to serve out the remainder of his term, the Republican congressman reversed course and officially resigned in mid-August. Today, Cantor appears to have landed on his feet.
Eric Cantor, the former Virginia Republican congressman and House majority leader, is starting a new job on Wall Street.Cantor will join Moelis & Company as vice chairman and managing director. He is also expected to be elected to the Moelis board of directors, the firm said in a press release Tuesday.
The boutique investment bank apparently didn’t have a D.C. office, a problem Cantor will help solve.
That the former GOP leader would team up with a bank surprises no one. As the Wall Street Journal reported, Cantor has long been a “liaison of sorts” between his party and the financial world. The same piece noted that the Center for Responsive Politics found that Cantor, just since 2012, raised nearly $1.4 million from financial firms and their employees.
As for his new gig, what will Moelis & Co. get for their money? Founder Ken Moelis said, “I have no need for a political figurehead. What I want is a partner.”
Annie Lowrey talked to Dennis Kelleher, a former corporate lawyer and longtime Senate staffer who now leads a non-profit group, Better Markets, that opposes the financial industry’s lobbying efforts. Kelleher seemed a tad skeptical about the official line from Moelis & Co.
“Let’s look at Cantor’s resume. Let’s look at all his investment-banking experience. Let’s look at his capital-markets experience. He has none. He has no experience or skills that would qualify him to be even an intern at a fifth-tier firm in the financial industry. I mean, come on! I love the spin. They’re pushing back this morning. They’re saying, ‘This is really different! This isn’t like everybody else.’“But Wall Street always goes with the sure bet and the well-worn path. They’re paying him a guaranteed – you’ve got to love Wall Street, you guarantee money because you can’t fail on Wall Street – they’re guaranteeing him $3.8 million. You don’t guarantee someone $3.8 million because you’re training him to be an investment banker.”
That’s true. They’re paying him for his Rolodex, his extensive connections, and the expansive group of lawmakers Cantor helped lead – and who will pick up the phone whenever he calls.