“Have I become an instrument in some billionaire’s investment campaign?” he said, adding that he now regrets sending the letter. “I don’t want to be an unwitting pawn, and that is how I am feeling right now.”
This is some truly disgusting crony capitalism.
Bill Ackman, a hedge fund manager has declared a vendetta against Herbalife and has sworn to take the company down using every tool he has available, even and apparently especially, his friends in government.
Can’t win in the market? Cheat. Get cronies to do the work for you.
The truth is what we see here is a very public urinating match between 2 billionaires (Mr. Ackman and Charles Icahn) which was exposed for the world to see on CNBC about a year ago. See below. It’s nasty.
The Herbalife saga is 2 guys going toe to toe and getting as down and dirty as they can. In Ackman’s case that means whining to the government because Herbalife stock keeps going up and his short position is looking worse and worse. (Of course that’s not why he says he’s whining.)
Ackman says he’s on his crusade for social justice reasons. It just happens to be that his investors stand to make hundreds of millions of dollars if the government takes the company down. Pure coincidence.
(From The New York Times)
The team includes lobbying firms run by two former members of Congress: Toby Moffett, a Democrat who once represented Connecticut, and Robert S. Walker, a Republican from Pennsylvania. Mr. Ackman also hired firms run by former top White House aides for President Obama and President Clinton. Jim Papa, who handled legislative affairs for the Obama White House, also joined the effort, with his firm, Global Strategy Group, a longtime consultant to Mr. Ackman.
In some cases, the hiring was even more strategic. In Massachusetts, Mr. Ackman’s firm hired the lobbyist Larry Rasky, who was an aide to Senator Edward J. Markey, Democrat of Massachusetts, when Mr. Markey was a member of the House. Another lobbyist, Malcolm Grace, is a former aide to Ms. Sánchez. Both Mr. Markey and Ms. Sánchez would ultimately play critical roles in the effort.
Mr. Ackman also retained the Dewey Square Group, a Washington-based firm that specializes in “grass-roots advocacy,” to influence officials by recruiting surrogates to speak out against Herbalife in emails, tweets, letters or rallies.
He employed Dewey Square to focus on Hispanic and black community leaders and politicians based on a belief that because many of the individuals who are recruited as distributors by Herbalife are minorities, taking on the company might in some way help the Latino community. Separately, the lobbyists and grass-roots organizers set up meetings with major consumer groups.