Granted, it’s been a long time since Mitt Romney ran Bain Capital, the private equity firm that has taken a central role in the presidential election campaign. But considering the intensity of President Obama’s attacks on the presumptive Republican nominee’s record at Bain, it’s perhaps worth mentioning that a senior Obama administration appointee had money invested with the firm—at least until a few months ago.
Last year, acting Office of Management and Budget Director Jeff Zients held roughly between $116,000 and $315,000 in what his annual financial disclosure report describes as “Bain Capital Fund VII.” OMB released the report, which requires federal officials to list their assets only in dollar ranges, this week in response to FedLine’s public records request.
By last year, Zients’ remaining primary holdings in the fund were Bombardier Recreational Products, a Canadian snowmobile manufacturer, and Unisource Worldwide, an Atlanta-based paper and packaging distributor. If you’re in the mood for a little more irony, Unisource’s ownership–according to its web site—is split between Bain and Georgia-Pacific, the paper manufacturer controlled by Charles and David Koch, brothers who are prominent backers of Romney and a host of Republican causes.
Zients, who was not available for an interview, acquired his Bain stake more than a decade ago as part of a “broadly diversified portfolio,” OMB spokeswoman Moira Mack said in an email. He sold that stake, along with other assets, early this year, she said. While Bain by that point was already looming as an issue in the November presidential election, the sale was “part of a normal portfolio review,” she said. The holdings, Mack added, were also unrelated to Zients’ work from 1988 to 1990 at Bain & Co., a consulting firm distinct from Bain Capital.
Zients, a former management consultant, is in his second tour as acting OMB director. His Bain stake represented a sliver of a varied portfolio that last year included numerous mutual funds, municipal bonds and between about $1 million and $5 million in gold. Among his largest transactions, Zients reported selling between $5 million and $25 million in shares in BestPractices, described on his disclosure report as a “privately held emergency [department] outsourcing company.” On its web site, BestPractices says that it is an “emergency physician and hospitalist staffing and management group.”
A bit less conventionally, Zients also put money into Riot Act DC, a Washington, D.C. comedy club.