Keep an eye on next Tuesday, May 15, as the day John Edwards will release disclosure forms showing how much he made from the hedge fund Fortress Investments. Edwards was a consultant for the fund from October 2005 through December 2006, when he began running for president full-time. At the Democratic candidates’ debate on April 27, he was asked about his work at Fortress and whether hedge funds “make American better in any way.” Edwards’ answer seemed to suggest that he went to work at Fortress, whose co-founder, Wesley Edens, reportedly made more than $300 million last year, to learn more about financial markets in order to better understand poverty:
Well, I think what — what — first of all, I think the financial markets are an important component of trying to figure out what it is we need to do about the fact that we have 47 million people without health care, 37 million people who wake up in poverty every day. They play an enormous role in how money moves in this country. And I happen to believe that we have a responsibility to the people in this country who wake up every day worried about feeding and clothing their children. And I think those people in New York who work in financial markets understand, in some ways at least, what can be done, and can play a significant role in trying to lift people up who are struggling.
I am proud of what I’ve been doing for the last few years. You know, I’ve been all over the country organizing workers into unions and raising the minimum wage, and also working at a poverty center at the University of North Carolina.
How much Edwards made from his work with Fortress will be critical to his carefully-cultivated image as an anti-poverty crusader. That image has already been damaged somewhat by personal extravagances like a new 28,000 square-foot mansion and a $400 haircut. If he took home hedge-fund-sized money from Fortress, rival Democratic candidates, not to mention Republicans, will likely have a field day.