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 the
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.
As Out Magazine puts it, “since coming out in 2010, former Republican National Committee chairman Mehlman has been a revolutionary leader in his party.”
On March 20th, Ken Mehlman met with Buyouts at the offices of PEGCC founding member Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co, where Mehlman is the global head of public affairs. The group discussed private equity, Dodd-Frank, and Ken Mehlman’s priorities for his first year as chairman of the PEGCC.
Mehlman’s first statements dealt with his thanks for the work that the PEGCC president and CEO Steve Judge has done to engage policy makers.
“First of all I would say that thanks to the great work of Steve Judge (PEGCC president and CEO) and the team at the PEGCC the industry has done a very good job of engaging in dialog with policy makers about how we encourage more economic growth and also about how we make sure growth is sustainable from a financial system perspective.” He then went on to discuss his hope that the PEGCC can continue to be a part of that dialog as well as part of the solution on how to have better retirement growth and security for Americans throughout the country.
Buyouts also questioned Mehlman on the effort the PEGCC is making to ensure that the public knows that private equity is a force for economic good. Mehlman explained this effort needs to be a two-way dialog where private equity companies listen as much as they persuade, but that the statistics show that private equity investment has done quite a bit of good for the economy.
“Our hope is to highlight companies that have been enhanced by our investment and by our hard work,” Ken Mehlman said. “And also to point to millions of retirees who today have more security and enjoy a better time in their golden years because their pension fund decided to participate in private equity.”
Mehlman also mentioned that the PEGCC is watching Dodd-Frank, because “while Dodd-Frank wasn’t aimed at the private equity and growth capital industries there will be very important rules and regulations that impact directly our ability to operate, and to create value.”
To read the the full piece on PEGCC.org click here.
Out on the Street recently expanded to form Out Leadership, a model for collaboration across industry lines in order to help develop initiatives in the future that help support and leverage LGBT opportunities. This new project brings together leaders throughout the business world, including top executives and senior leaders in financial services, law, and insurance fields. Together they will work to develop programs and initiatives that can help to impact businesses and drive LGBT equality forward.
Ken Mehlman is a member of the Out on the Street Leadership committee, and has been since 2011. As he puts it, “Out Leadership will help members succeed while making a positive impact. It will help smart businesses share effective tools to recruit and retain the best talent and enhance true meritocracy throughout our firms and society.” Ken Mehlman is a Member and Global Head of Public Affairs at KKR, which is one of Out on the Street’s 2014 member firms. Other 2014 member firms includeBarclays, Bloomberg, Citi, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, Ernst & Young, KPMG, Moody’s, Morgan Stanley, Nomura, Prudential Investment Management, RBC Wealth Management, RBS, UBS, Vestar Capital Partners and Wells Fargo.
Out Leadership was founded by Todd Sears, a former investment banker and diversity leader, and he focuses on the idea that LGBT inclusion and business diversity is a boon for businesses, driving success in a new way.
The group plans to launch two additional industry verticals later this year that will be organized by Out Leadership: Out in Law and Out in Insurance. Out in Law will host its inaugural summit in March in New York.
Both of these programs plan to develop business-focused dialog in the law and insurance fields, and all of these programs will work together to develop ideas and programs that are cross-industry. One such program will be the OutNEXT Emerging Leaders program, which Out Leadership has already begun and which will work to create opportunities for LGBt leaders in New York, London, and Hong Kong.
Ken Mehlman recently made an appearance at The Riverside Theater in Vero Beach, Florida. The Riverside Theater opened the 16th season of its Distinguished Lecturer Series with a lecture by George W. Bush. Ken Mehlman had the opportunity to interview Bush, posing questions about his presidency and some of the most defining decisions of his personal life. The interview also covered president Bush’s philanthropic work through the George W. Bush President Center in Dallas. Ken Mehlman has a longstanding relationship with the former president as his former campaign manager and head of the Republican National Convention. 1,600 Distinguished Lecturer Series subscribers listened to the lecture, either live in the Riverside Theater or at its simulcast location in the adjacent Waxlax Theater.
Autographed copies of Bush’s book, “Decision Points,” were available for purchase at the lecture. The American Association of Political Consultants voted Ken Mehlman “Campaign Manager of the Year” in 2005 for his work on the Bush campaign. The Distinguished Speakers Series has brought 60 speakers to the Riverside Theater over the past 16 years. Other speakers who will be featured this year include Dr. Robert Scales, Leon Panetta and Robert D. Kaplan. Former President Bush is the series’ most notable featured speaker to date, and security around the event was especially tight. His arrival was unannounced even to local police forces until directly before the event, and all event attendees had to submit to a rigorous background check before they were put on the approval list. Bush has tried to remain out of the public eye lately, so this interview with Ken Mehlman was a great chance for some of the community to learn about his life after presidency.
This weekend, Harvard grad schools made history by hosting the first campus wide conference dedicated to LGBTQ issues. The conference connected students, alumni and many significant members of the LGBTQ community. Ken Mehlman was invited to participate in an interview with Baruch Shemtov and also gave the closing keynote speech. This conference broke ground for what the school hopes will become an annual event designed to explore and address critical issues for the LGBTQ community. The conference gave an in depth look at how far the conversation about LGBTQ issues has come since the Stonewall Riots of 1969, the symbolic beginning of the LGBTQ movement. Students from various Harvard grad schools came together to plan this event with the hopes of strengthening bonds between the schools. Ken Mehlman joined other important figures in the LGBTQ community including Brian Rolfes, a partner at McKinsey, former hockey star Caitlin Cahow, and inspirational speaker Ash Beckham. Mehlman addressed the challenges he faces as an openly gay politician and inspired conversation among students with similar career aspirations. The conference aims to be one of the biggest conferences among LGBTQ students in the world over the coming years. It drew a crowd of over 400 students from around the world. In addition to Harvard, participating schools included Yale, Boston University, Penn State and the London Business School. As he inspired students to be confident in their own identity, Ken Mehlman closed the conference proclaiming, “There’s nothing more powerful than coming out and being who you are.”
Ken Mehlman is the new face of Private Equity Growth Capital Council after he was elected Chairman of the Council’s Board of Directors.
With more than two decades of political and corporate experience, Ken Mehlman will help expand the PEGCC’s outreach and education efforts to engage stakeholders about the value of private equity. Mehlman will succeed Mark Tresnowski, the Managing Director and General Counsel at Madison Dearborn Partners.
“I’m privileged to succeed Mark as Chairman of the PEGCC,” said Ken Mehlman in a statement from Private Equity Growth Capital Council. “I have enormous respect for the PEGCC’s important work engaging with public policy makers to encourage more economic growth and retirement security for millions of Americans.”
Some of Ken Mehlman’s primary responsibilities will include engaging with lawmakers and discussing the positive light on the leveraged buyout industry.
Kenneth Mehlman has been with Kohlberg Kravis Roberts since 2008 where he now serves as Global Head of Public Affairs and oversees all external affairs, policy risk assessments and other opportunities. Mr. Mehlman also serves on the Robin Hood Foundation Veterans Advisory Board, the Council on Foreign Relations and is a trustee at Mt. Sinai Hospital of New York. As a former environmental lawyer, Ken Mehlman also heads KKR’s environmental social governance program, which has helped to curb greenhouse gas emissions and energy use at the firm’s different locations.
Before joining KKR, Ken Mehlman was a central figure in the 2004 election, managing George W. Bush’s presidential re-election campaign, while serving as the Chairman of the Republican National Committee. He famously came out as gay in 2010 and has since worked with Republican leaders and members of Congress to embrace civil marriage, freedom and liberty for same-sex couples. Ken Mehlman most recently worked with advocates in Maine to retool their advertising, which led to voters approving same-sex marriage in December 2012.
Ken Mehlman is excited for the opportunity to affect positive economic growth and said he shares the PEGCC’s goal of building a community of investors who “seek superior returns while also emphasizing active, responsible governance, long term investment and measuring success in years not quarters.”
Question: Why are you so engaged on the issue of marriage equality?
Ken Mehlman: What motivates me to do this are people I’ve met along the way, and people whose experience I think is really compelling. There’s a couple here in the city of New York, really good friends, they’re probably in their mid or late 40’s, although I may have insulted them by aging them. A couple of women, they have awesome kids, they’re incredible moms, and before we had marriage here in New York, they had to have a judge send an expert into their house to determine whether they were fit parents so that they could have a medical consent form for their kids. Think about that, that’s like something you hear abut in the old Soviet Union, or in a Totalitarian regime; that’s un-American, but that happened here.
Ken Mehlman: I think about a good buddy of mine who lives in Washington, who has a long time partner from Europe. They love each other; they’re an awesome couple. Until recently, they had to worry every few years how he would stay in this country. Or I think about the 14-year-old or the 15-year-old that live all over our country, who every year, they’re excited about their mom and dad’s wedding anniversary. That’s not a contract anniversary, that’s a wedding anniversary that’s celebrates their wedding. That’s the one thing every year the family celebrates together. And they think, “I’m never going to have that.” That’s terrible, that’s not fair. Imagine growing up, and thinking about the thing your mom and day talk about the most, maybe they have a wedding album, but you’ll never have access to it. So when you think about people like that, that’s pretty motivating.
Ken Mehlman: Secondly, I’m motivated by the fact that I think this is consistent with what I believe as someone who is a political conservative. I believe in freedom, I believe in family values, and this is consistent with that. I’m also motivated by the fact that I feel like this is an area I can help. I’ve had a unique experience professionally in my life, and I think as a result I’ve learned some things about how to be involved in public persuasion, I’ve learned some things about tactics that can be effective in various campaigns. I’ve met a lot of men and women, many who are on the right of the political center, who I think I can help encourage to be involved. I was really pleased that we had 135 very Senior Officials, members of the Reagan cabinet, President Bush’s cabinet and others who signed an amicus brief on behalf of the recent Supreme Court cases, a number of whom, by the way are still involved. I’m proud of the fact that Paul Wolfowitz wrote an op-ed in the Texas Newspaper, after writing the amicus brief, staying involved in the case. So all those things are very motivating to me. But you know, there’s a lot of people who do this their whole lives, for whom this is a profession. I try to help where I can. And at the end of the day, while I’m pleased to be able to help and will look forward to continuing to find ways to help, what really motivates me is admiring the work that people like them do. People like Chad, people like Evan, people in so many other places around the country who have committed their lives to this. All of that to me really is important.