Former House Majority leader, Republican Eric Cantor, lost a June primary to a Tea Party conservative in a surprise upset.
According to the Center for Responsive Politics, two thirds of former members of Congress end up in the lobbying business. Cantor, however, is doing something slightly different.
He will be vice chairman at boutique investment bank Moelis and Co. He will also be a managing director, and a member of its board.
What, though, will he be doing?
“Strategic counsel,” according to the firm’s announcement. Cantor comes from a real estate law background, so he won’t be bringing a deep expertise in mergers and acquisitions, for example. But politicians do, it turns out, have skills.
“A politician is a very smart hire,” says Jeanne Branthover, managing partner with Boyden Global Executive Search. “Politicians are very strategic, they’re always looking into the future and looking at what should we do, what shouldn’t we do, what should our image be, our message, our brand.”
A politician like Cantor also brings a Rolodex.
“When you think about an investment bank, so much of what they do is wealth and connections, and politicians are connected at very high levels and very important circles,” says Branthover.
“Money is a commodity, access and influence are not,” says Josh Crist, managing director at Crist Kolder Associates, an executive search firm. “Guys who have grown up on the investment side can access money, but may not be able to open the doors that a guy like Cantor can.”
So, for example, if Company A wants to expand by taking over Companies B and C, they might lean on Cantor to work any connections there.
“He’s seen C level, board level access for years given his fundraising responsibilities,” says Crist.
Cantor raised $1.4 million over the past two years, including $5,200 for his own campaign from his new boss, the founder of Moelis and Co, since April 2013.