Hiring hedge funders for government work is a bit of a high-wire act in DC these days. Giving taxpayer dollars to everyone's favorite boogeymen is political suicide, and opens the door for facile populist attacks from either side of the aisle.
Like this one.
Congressmen slammed Obama administration officials this week for hiring a firm with a connection to a hedge fund manager that spectacularly blew up.
"Here we have somebody who lost millions of dollars, under investigation by the Department of Justice. We've got to figure out how in the world these people got the contract," said Rep. Jason Chaffetz on Wednesday in reference to Owen Li during a hearing of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.
Congressman Chaffetz, a Tea Partier from Utah, was pretty rip-sh*t that the Obama administration would hire ant entity associated with Owen Li, whom Chaffetz knew to be the head of failed hedge fund Canarsie Capital.
Chaffetz was joined by other members of the committee - from both parties - in castigating the White House for even trying to engage with a filthy hedgie on their watch.
There was only one small hole in their argument.
Turns out the Owen Li on the board of CSID is not the same Owen Li who is (reportedly) under federal investigation. The gaffe appears to be the result of a case of mistaken identity.
The Owen Li who gained Wall Street notoriety earlier this year for losing $60 million of investors’ money in three weeks while acting as a principal of hedge fund Canarsie Capital is reportedly under investigation by the Department of Justice and the SEC.
But that’s a different Owen Li from the CSID board member. The CSID Owen Li is a vice president at Investcorp, a Bahrain-based investment manager.
Well at least the moment can be used to educate other politicos from cozying up to hedge funders. And god help anyone named Steve Cohen trying to get a job inside the Beltway.
For presidential candidate Rand Paul it's a perfect precedent to show critics that names are confusing. Like, he just hired a guy named Mark Spitznagel to be a senior economic advisor on his campaign, and there's another Mark Spitznagel out there who runs a $6 billion hedge fund called Universa Investments and advocates crazy sh*t like using goats to save Detroit's economy.
Holy sh*t, these guys do all look alike.