Washington insider advises buyout lobbying group

Harry Clark, a veteran lobbyist and communications counselor to industry and government officials, is helping America’s biggest buyout firms establish an advocacy group for the private equity industry.

The largest US private equity firms have hired Harry Clark, a Washington DC insider, to help establish a private equity lobbying group, according to a source close to one of the sponsor private equity firms.

The firms sponsoring the formation of the lobbying group include The Carlyle Group, The Blackstone Group, Texas Pacific Group and Kohlberg Kravis Roberts. The lobbying group would have as its chief mission pushing for GP-friendly regulatory actions from US lawmakers.

According to a source, confirming earlier reports, the firms have tapped Clark, who now lives in Greenwich, Connecticut, to help set up the group.

Clark was a founding partner of Clark & Weinstock, a powerful lobbying firm that was acquired by Omnicom Group in 1996. Clark left Omnicom in 2001 to form Stanwich Group, which advises corporations on public policy. Clark’s most notable recent client was the creditors’ committee of bankrupt WorldCom and MCI. He was recently named of counsel to global communications firm Brunswick Group.

Clark has also advised federal officials, among them Senator Bill Brock of Tennessee and Congressman Jack Kemp of New York, as well as Ambassador Robert Zocllick of the Office of the US Trade Representative.

He also currently serves on the board of the Center for International Private Enterprise, a Washington-based group that, according to its web site, “was founded by the US Chamber of Commerce in 1983 in the belief that economic and political freedoms are intertwined. CIPE partners with business associations, think tanks, and other private sector organizations in countries where there is both a need for progress and an opportunity for reform.”

Private equity firms have watched with concern as Securities and Exchange Commission and Congressional leaders have called for greater regulation of hedge funds. Private equity firms, with growing clout and influence in the financial markets, are worried that it won’t be long before law and policy makers turn their eyes toward the private equity industry.

A 1999 press release from Clark & Weinstock noted that the firm provides “public policy advice to corporations concerned with the impact of regulation, regulatory sanctions, or legislative activities on their companies, markets, or business environment. . .”