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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.

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 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.

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 spoke to The Dish about why he chose to work on marriage equality. See below for the video, as well as a full transcript.

Transcript:

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.

Ken Mehlman has been giving a lot of advice when it comes to marriage equality. In this video, he talks about religious conservatives and marriage equality. Look below for the entire transcript.

Transcript:

Question: What sort of messaging to you think will be most effective in promoting marriage equality among social and religious conservatives?

Ken Mehlman: I think among social religious conservatives, it’s important to think about a couple of things. First, I think it’s really important to be clear we’re talking about civil marriage. We’re talking about whether the government allows people to have access to a marriage license. The same people that pay taxes and serve in the same military, ought to be treated the same under the law. We’re not talking about the sacrament of marriage, which is up to each religious denomination to determine it’s own definition of. But secondly, what’s interesting to me is if you stopped and you said, “What’s the biggest indicator of where someone stands on this issue?” It actually wouldn’t be if they are religious or not, or if they are conservative or liberal, or republican or democrat; it’s their age. There was a recent ABC News Washington Post poll: 64 percent of millennial evangelicals, which is to say people born between 1980 and 2000, supported marriage equality. That’s a pretty interesting statistic to me.

Ken Mehlman: I think that the biggest argument to make to folks is one: we’re talking about, in fact, civil marriage. This is not a threat to anybody’s sacrament or anybody’s religious freedom, and we’re going to stand up for that. Two, equally importantly, if you think about the golden rule, if you think about what many religious conservatives have correctly argued for years, which is that our society would be better off if more people cared for one another. That there is more stability, and we want to promote more families to form, and it’s important to have two parents taking care of children. If you believe in all of those things, that’s actually promoted and encouraged by allowing more people to get married. So that there are more people who are caring for children, so there are more children raised in households with two loving parents. So that there are more people that have someone to take care of them when they get sick or old. All of those goals, which religious conservatives have argued for over the years can be achieved by allowing more people to get married, and doing so in a way that also protects religious freedom, which is what civil marriage does.

Ken Mehlman recently discussed what he sees as the future of marriage equality. See below for the video, as well as a full transcript.

Transcript:

Question: What’s next for the marriage equality movement?

Ken Mehlman: I think that that’s an answer people like Andrew Sullivan, Evan Wolfson, Chad Griffin, and Matt Coles and others who spent years working on this question are better positioned to answer than I am. They’re the experts; I look for ways to help them when I can. From my perspectives, what I hope will happen are a couple of things.

Ken Mehlman: First, about a third of the country will live in a place where today there is marriage equality. What I think other people are going to see, is not only that things they worried about didn’t happen, but a whole lot of good things happened. I’ll tell you a story that I think to me explains this. I had the opportunity to go up to New Hampshire in 2011 when that state was considering repealing the marriage law that was passed in 2009. When the law was passed, 7 Republicans had voted for it. I went up to New Hampshire and met with a whole bunch of Republican legislature, and most who I met with said, “You know what, we actually think marriage is between a man and a women.” I asked them a question, “I understand that, but let me ask you this, would you concede that for the 1,800 families who have someone who got married under the marriage law, are their lives are better? And they said “yeah, obviously,” and I said, “Whose life got worse?” and they couldn’t answer the question. At the end of the day, we ended up with a majority, 119 Republicans of the legislatures in New Hampshire voted in favor of marriage. A majority of Republicans, from seven to a majority, how did that happen? It happened because of experience. It happened because a lot of folks had someone on their street who perhaps got married or attended a wedding, or had a brother or sister who got married. And so what we are about to have happen now is all over the country, people are going to look and they’re going to see that in New York, California, that in these other places, communities got stronger. Children had two parents to take care of them, and people had a loved one to watch out for them when they got older and they got sick unfortunately. The impact on society was to make it stronger not weaker, to enhance family values.

Ken Mehlman: So I hope as that happens, people will look and they’ll say, “that’s really interesting, that’s really important, and as a result I now support marriage.” So I think you’ll see, one in those states where it’s legal and available, people seeing what really happens. Two, then other states will make the case, will show people what’s happening in the states where marriage is available, that’s obviously important. And third, obviously there remains a significant amount of litigation that’s occurring in this space, so all of those things are occurring. But what matters most is experience, what matters most in all of this is what people see in their real lives. And what people are going to see in their real lives, I’m very confident in 30% of the country, cause what they’ve seen in the last few years, in New Hampshire, Iowa, New York, in Washington, in Maryland, in these other states, and that is that society is better off, that family values are enhanced, that freedom is promoted, and that communities are stronger because more people live in a place where they have a committed and loving partner who they can come home to, who they can raise children with, and who they can look after.

Ken Mehlman recently made a list in the Institutional Investor of people who regularly make the news.  The list includes other influential people such as Tom Steyer, founder of the $18.4 billion hedge fund Farallon Capital Management, Warren Buffet’s protegee Tracy Britt, and Andy Smith, head of equity research at Sberbank CIB.

According to the Institutional Investor, Tom Steyer made the list because he often shows up in the news in regards to social media like Twitter. Particularly, as the paper puts it, Tom Steyer “wants Barack Obama’s Twitter army.”  In June, he announced a campaign dubbed “We Love Our Land” to mobilize online supporters to urge them to tell the White House to block the planned Keystone XL pipeline, especially those that previously supported the president in his campaign.

Ken Mehlman, meanwhile, is working hard to “change GOP minds about another demographically important issue: gay rights.”  His work on the amicus brief signed by more than 130 prominent figures on the political right in support of gay marriage in the case of Proposition 8, as well as his belief that “the political right should embrace gay marriage because it is consistent with the conservative values about the importance of family and freedom from government intrusion” is part of what made the Institutional Investor include him on their list of People in the News.