Ethics Reforms in Action


The hedge fund industry is courting U.S. Rep. Richard Baker (R-La.) to head their lobbying efforts, according to a report over the weekend from The Washington Post. Baker said he has not decided to take the position as president of the Managed Funds Association (MFA), but did admit that the nearly million-dollar-a-year job did "look very interesting." He informed the House Ethics Committee Friday of his talks with MFA as members of Congress are now required to do as a result of the lobbying law passed last year. Baker is the first member to meet this new requirement.

The Louisiana Republican is a longtime member of the Financial Services Committee, formerly known as the Banking Committee, and served eight years as chair of the House subcommittee on capital markets, insurance, and government sponsored enterprises. He also serves on the Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit. These posts have given Baker extensive experience dealing with legislation dear to the heart of the financial sector. And it’s no surprise that the banking and investment industry has been Baker’s biggest contributor over his congressional career. The Post commented on Baker’s "dogged, though largely unsuccessful efforts to rein in" Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and initiatives to limit the reach of state attorneys general.

As The Post reported, hedge funds have exploded in growth over recent years, and their aggressiveness has drawn the interest of federal and state regulators. MAF is attempting to raise its profile in Washington, and the hiring of Baker would be viewed as a step in that direction. The industry must know that a replay of last year’s fight over the obscene tax loophole for hedge fund managers is in the offing.