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In an interview with Ainslie Chandler for Bloomberg Brief, Ken Mehlman explains KKR’s commitment to ESG and how it builds these considerations into its investment process by identifying new opportunities to invest, achieving double bottom-line benefits and de-risking companies. Mehlman discusses the process KKR uses to evaluate investments from an ESG perspective and the impact some of those investments have made in the lives of many people. Mehlman also shares insights about what the future holds for KKR and what could be their next big ESG investment.

Mehlman describes the process of KKR’s engagement on ESG issues as “very rigorous.” He explains that the potential company’s “protocol, their processes, their culture, their commitment—[are] examined both in terms of ‘where is the problem?’ but also ‘what can we do to make it better during the course of our ownership?’” The purpose of KKR’s ESG investment is not only to make a smart deal that will yield profit, but also to identify investments with an opportunity to improve the world.

KKR has already invested $5 billion globally for companies committed to ESG missions, Mehlman said. Those investments all have different faces: “We have done a fair bit of investing in food safety in China—starting in dairy and now in chicken and pork,” he said. “We have also invested a lot in water and renewable energy…We’ve done an investment in China in water cleanliness.”

“We expect to invest more in challenges or solutions related to water scarcity,” he added.

When asked about what issues today affect global companies, Mehlman answered that the firm is interested in how companies handle the privacy and protection of their customers. This issue has been highlighted by recent data breaches, he said.

In his opinion, Ken Mehlman does not feel that companies should ever have to choose between ESG best practices and profit. Mehlman explains that “returns are in ESG.” Speaking of an investment by KKR that allowed millions of people to receive adequate retirement pensions, Mehlman said, “The world will only be saved at a profit and the only way you are going to make a profit today is to understand the world. ESG can help you do both.”

In an interview with Toby Stock for the American Enterprise Institute, Ken Mehlman offered students three lessons on how to have rewarding, successful careers.

According to Kenneth Mehlman, Lesson 1 is to find something you’re passionate about and try to get paid to do it. As he said in the video, “I don’t believe that success makes happiness; I believe that happiness makes success.”

Lesson 2 is to “monetize what you know”—that is, have a unique body of knowledge that you can offer to an organization. Don’t go where everyone is like you; go where you are different, so you bring a different perspective and add a different value. As he argued, that way you won’t be monetized “based on how cheap you are and how long you can work; you can instead price yourself based on what you know and what you know that’s different.”

For Lesson 3, he suggested that “life is best lived in chapters.” He used the example of a potted plant that reaches the edge of its pot and then gets transplanted to a larger pot. Its roots still stay the same. As he put it, “a good career is one in which there is a fair amount of repotting.” Ken Mehlman referenced his own 12 years in politics, followed by his 7 years in private equity.

For a fruitful career in public policy, take these lessons and be what Ken Mehlman called a white blood cell, since “white blood cells kill disease; they solve problems. They don’t worry about who gets credit…If you don’t worry about who gets credit, you can accomplish unbelievable amounts of things.” The people who have the biggest impact are the ones who help the people below them as much as they help the people above them—and helping someone above you means telling them what they need to hear, not necessarily what they want to hear.

At SuperReturns International 2016 in Berlin, Ken Mehlman spoke with “Bloomberg Markets.” He discussed the 2016 outlook for private equity and KKR’s global vision. He acknowledged that, “there’s a lot of volatility across lots of economies across the world, a lot of industries,” but said that people at KKR look at things optimistically because they see situations like this as being full of opportunity.

In this video, Ken Mehlman attributes KKR’s positive outlook to their patient capital; belief that success is measured over the long-term, not just in quarterly returns; proven ability to add growth and value to the companies they invest in beyond just capital; and ability to invest flexibly. For firms with those qualities, according to this video, now is a good time to invest.

When asked about any surprises or points of focus at the conference, Ken Mehlman responded, “A lot of focus…on the energy space, broadly, and what’s happening there.” In fact, the conference dedicated a full day to Environmental Social Governance (ESG), including a keynote by Al Gore and David Blood. To Mehlman, this is a reflection of where the world is going. Investing successfully today, he says, requires the ability to understand, “where you’re operating, the geopolitical questions, to understand public policy and regulatory issues, and to understand the value that can be created if you can engage effectively with stakeholders.”

Kenneth Mehlman also explains that private equity has the ability to be a solution provider, not a savior, to help build infrastructure, finance retirement, and build better companies. Doing so can generate the returns investors expect, while also helping to solve important societal problems.

For example, according to Mehlman, KKR has invested in three different municipal water systems, modernizing them in a way that is environmentally positive and beneficial to the community. To take advantage of such opportunities, it is necessary to understand the people in those communities.

Finally, Mehlman was asked about regulation. In his opinion, investment should be regulated, so when he meets with government officials or policy makers, it’s less about asking for reduced regulation and more about asking what private equity can do to help and where investment is needed.

Update: According to Slate, the Mehlman Amicus Brief is being considered especially notable among the dozens of other briefs that have been filed.  The reason? The brief is signed by 303 conservatives, many of whom have previously opposed gay marriage, and includes notable signers like Senators Susan Collins and Mark Kirk, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker, former Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge, and retired General Stanley McChrystal.

On Thursday, according to TIME, a friend of the court brief was filed with the Supreme Court that contained more than 300 signatures from veteran Republican lawmakers and consultants.  This brief was organized by Ken Mehlman and concerns the April 28th cases that the Supreme Court will be hearing on the issue of same-sex marriage.

Depending on how the court rules, and it is expected that the court will rule by the end of June, these cases could legalize same-sex unions on a nationwide basis.

Signatories to the brief include current and former governors, current and former Republican members of the House of Representatives and Senate, among others.  This effort is similar to another effort in 2013, where Ken Mehlman organized another amicus brief for the Supreme Court case that overturned California’s Proposition 8.  That brief gathered 131 signatures from prominent Republicans.

According to TIME, the brief makes a conservative case for the court to strike down same-sex marriage bans, and states that the laws that “bar same-sex couples from the institution of civil marriage” are “inconsistent with the United States Constitution’s dual promises of equal protection and due process.”

According to the Washington Blade, Ken Mehlman is leading the effort to gather signatures for a friend-of-the-court brief signed exclusively by prominent Republicans.  The document addresses the issue of same-sex marriage, and urges the U.S. Supreme Court to find it a constitutional right when the court considers the  recent lawsuits from Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee.

These lawsuits all cover marriage rights for same-sex couples.  The court agreed to hear the cases in January, and is expected to deliver a ruling on the topics by the end of June.

According to sources familiar with the document, the legal arguments of the brief will be similar to the filing made before the U.S. Tenth Circuit Court of appeals, which argued that same-sex marriage promotes stability and mutual support.  It is also similar to an earlier brief that Ken Mehlman led in 2013 which argued against the constitutionality of California’s Proposition 8.  That brief garnered 131 signatures from within the Republican Party.

Some of those who have affirmed to the Washington Blade that they have signed the current amicus brief previously signed the 2013 brief, while other signatories are new.

The National Journal Magazine recently released the results of a poll taken of many Washington insiders about immigration. This “Political Insiders Poll,” as this recurring poll is called, focused was on the possibility of immigration reform occurring at a congressional level sometime this year and the results are indicative of the current climate in the capital.

Ken Mehlman is among the key Republican insiders that are regularly tapped for this survey.  In addition to Mehlman many other Democrat and Republican Party insiders were questioned, including Paul Bennecke, Wayne Berman, Gale Kaufman, and Doug Hattaway.

According to the poll, among those who responded the overwhelming consensus was that immigration reform within the year was “somewhat unlikely” to “very unlikely.” That said, the poll suggested that “if Republicans want to be credible [contenders] in the presidential race in ’16, this is an opening bid.”

According to The Washington Post, this delaying of the White House’s review is believed to provide an opportunity for congressional action over the summer though it is widely considered an inevitability that, if the White House were to act independently from Congress, that House conservatives could be expected to kill any immigration legislation that reaches the House floor.

The National Journal’s report, however, appears to confirm the fact that politicians on both side of the aisle are expected to allow the August recess to pass in an effort to move President Obama’s hand.

The White House does have a certain measure of authority when it comes to immigration and deportation policy but it is overshadowed by the changes Congress can enact. In the interim, many state legislatures are attempting to pass their own policies though they too have limited reach when compared to the impact a congressional bill would have on the lives of those seeking to find a path to permanent legal citizenship.

The full poll, including a list of all of those polled by the National Journal, can be found at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-politics/wp/2014/05/27/obama-orders-delay-of-immigration-deportation-review/

 

 

The Robin Hood Foundation’s annual gala raised over $60 million dollars in donations this month in their ongoing effort towards fighting poverty in America. The organization which is known for its philanthropic activities in public education, food programs, job training, and combatting homelessness, kicked off the event at New York City’s Jacob Javitz Center. The venue can hold more than twice that of any ballroom in the city and was packed with leading figures in the finance and business sectors.
One of the largest charity events in the country (and the largest in New York), the event boasted over four thousand attendees. To kick off the fundraiser a $10 million dollar challenge grant comprised of a $5 million dollar donation by the Pershing Square Foundation and a $5 million dollar anonymous donation was unveiled. The highlight of the evening was the launch of the new Robin Hood Dream Fund – a campaign designed specifically to help immigrants and their families as they transition into life in the United States. The evening’s success has now pushed the foundation’s total charitable contributions to over $1.45 billion dollars since 1988.
In addition to the organization’s board of directors and leadership council the foundation engages with accomplished experts, recruiting them to play important leadership roles in their active campaigns. These board members include influential philanthropists like Jacklyn Bezos of the Bezos Family Foundation and Kenneth Mehlman, Global Head of Public Affairs for Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. (kkr), who serves on the foundation’s Veterans Advisory Board. Ken Mehlman is one of many volunteers in the non-ideological organization that generously underwrites the administrative coats in addition to actively fund raising for the event.
Since he public ally came out in the Atlantic in 2010, Kenneth Mehlman has been an active advocate for LGBT equality across the country. In addition to his activities with the Robin Hood Foundation he has helped raise over $3 million dollars towards marriage equality in New York, Maryland, New Hampshire, and Washington State. He also serves on the board of directors of the American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER) and the United States Holocaust Museum.

A group of nearly 60 prominent same-sex marriage supporters recently signed a statement encouraging “a decent respect for differing opinions.”  The statement, entitled “Freedom to Marry, Freedom to Dissent: Why We Must Have Both,” was published on April 22nd and outlined the concern that some same-sex marriage supporters aim to punish dissenters rather than working to persuade them.

The statement primarily refers to the recent resignation of Brendan Eich as CEO of Mozilla after it was publicized that he made a $1,000 contribution in 2008 in support of California’s same-sex marriage ban, Proposition 8.

“We are concerned that recent events, including the resignation of the CEO of Mozilla under pressure because of an anti-same-sex- marriage donation he made in 2008, signal an eagerness by some supporters of same-sex marriage to punish rather than to criticize or to persuade those who disagree,” the statement says.  “We reject that deeply illiberal impulse, which is both wrong in principle and poor as politics.”

The statement goes on to affirm that open society and vigorous public debate are necessary for our society, and are part of the reason why the “last few years have brought an astonishing moral and political transformation in the American debate over same-sex marriage and gay equality.”  It brings up the point that Brendan Eich’s donation was a personal political action taken when “the majority of the American public shared his view” and that Eich was not accused of practicing any form of discrimination against Mozilla employees.

“We strongly believe that opposition to same-sex marriage is wrong, but the consequence of holding a wrong opinion should not be the loss of a job. Inflicting such consequences on others is sadly ironic in light of our movement’s hard-won victory over a social order in which LGBT people were fired, harassed, and socially marginalized for holding unorthodox opinions.”

Signatories to the statement include Margaret Hoover of the American Unity Fund, former Republican Representative Jim Kolbe, President of the R Street Institute Eli Lehrer, businessman Ken Mehlman, and Leah Ward Sears, former Georgia Supreme Court Justice.

As the New York Times reports, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts has started posting on Twitter.  As of May 1st, which is also the 38th anniversary of KKR’s founding, the private equity giant began posting on the social media channel.

Not only will the move to start posting on Twitter open up another channel of communication, but it will also add more transparency.

“For the past several years, we’ve tried to be more transparent about our business and engage more with our investors and key stakeholders for K.K.R. and the companies in which we invest,” Ken Mehlman, a partner and the global head of public affairs at K.K.R., said in a statement. “We hope that Twitter provides another outlet for this conversation. We’ll use it to share news about our firm and perspectives on key issues impacting investing around the world.”

So far tweets have highlighted some of the volunteer work that KKR employees have done in their community, including 40 employees who helped to beautify Bryant Hill Community Garden in the South Bronx for Earth Day.

Other tweets included information on KKR’s partnership with the Environmental Defense Fund as part of their Green Portfolio, as well as information about the 2014 Ceres Conference and an app that the KKR Global Macro and Asset Allocation Team has put out around KKR Insights that provides access to reports and commentary from Henry McVey, KKR’s Head of Global Macro and Asset Allocation, focused on major trends impacting the economic and investing landscape.

 

Out Magazine, which styles itself as a “gay and lesbian perspective on style, entertainment, fashion, the arts, politics, culture, and the world at large” recently released its 8th Annual Power 50.  This list documents theKen Mehlman

Ken Mehlman made this year’s Power List, numbering 18.  He was joined by people like Chris Hughes, Publisher and Editor in Chief of the New Republic, actor Neil Patrick Harris, and U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin.  Other notables include Tim Cook, Ellen DeGeneres, and Michael Sam, who only recently came out in a interview with the New York Times.

 

Out Magazine cited Ken Mehlman’s recent work with the American Foundation for Equal Rights and his work to help “win marriage equality in New York, Maine, Maryland, and Minnesota.”

As Out Magazine puts it, “since coming out in 2010, former Republican National Committee chairman Mehlman has been a revolutionary leader in his party.”