Pictured above (from left to right): Langston Emerson, Scott Gluck, Christine Melendes and Martin Okner discuss public policy at InterGrowth 2017.
ACG’s public policy team stressed the benefits of building strong partnerships with national policymakers at the association’s annual InterGrowth conference in Las Vegas on April 26.
The partnerships in Washington built by the organization over the past five years have led to the creation of the bi-partisan Middle Market Caucus, the passage of The Investment Advisers Modernization Act (HR5424) by the U.S. House of Representatives and an annual Washington, D.C. ‘fly-in’ event, consisting of discussions on regulatory and legislative issues with key policymakers and government administrators.
“Washington is a relationship town, you have to be out there meeting them in their offices…you need relationships with them for them to answer their phones,” said Christine Melendes, VP of events, partnerships and public policy for ACG Global.
When meeting with lawmakers, ACG representatives bring informational folders containing data about the congressman’s district from GrowthEconomy.org, a website outlining the beneficial impact of middle-market private equity on job growth, as well as information on the importance of the middle-market to the broader U.S. economy.
“When we first started doing policy, a congressman told me, ‘If you don’t have a seat at the table, you’re on the plate,’” Melendes said.
“Washington is a relationship town, you have to be out there meeting them in their offices…you need relationships with them for them to answer their phones.”
Christine Melendes, VP, Events, Partnerships and Public Policy, ACG Global
It’s important to make a lasting impression on legislators with the limited time one has with them, as they often have many meetings in a day around myriad issues, she said. So ACG representatives make sure to stand out, and leave something to refer back to with contact information. This allows ACG to start a mutually beneficial relationship with legislators.
“And just to amplify what Christine said, it really is just a matter of getting into the room with them,” said Scott Gluck, ACG’s outside legal counsel and special counsel with Duane Morris.
“One of my biggest surprises … was just how unfamiliar staffers were with private equity back in 2012 when we started,” he said. “I remember one of our very first meetings was with a legislative aide who did a lot of work on the Senate Banking Committee for his boss, and his first question was, ‘What do you guys think of high frequency trading?’”
With the 115th Congress in full swing, ACG expects a legislative battle surrounding the ability to continue to deduct interest paid on corporate debt. The association has partnered with the BUILD Coalition—a group of businesses devoted to ensuring that this provision remains in the tax code. ACG expects a bill designed to provide some relief of the Investment Advisers Act, as it related to private equity firms, as well. The Financial CHOICE Act, Rep. Jeb Hensarling’s (TX-R) ‘repeal and replace’ of Dodd-Frank, recently completed mark-up in the House Financial Services Committee. While it will most likely pass the House, it is doubtful it will pass the Senate – expect some bipartisan, ‘low hanging fruit,’ to be picked from the bill and passed, according to the policy team for the organization.
“ACG really has punched above its weight in the brief time in which it’s been in Washington,” said Langston Emerson, managing director at Cypress Group and ACG’s primary lobbyist in Washington, DC. “The reputation, development and relationship building that ACG has done in such a short time has been very impressive. It’s very important for us to stay at the table now, and further our role. That’s what will make us ultimately successful.”