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SEIU, MoveOn Slam Private Equity Firms

The Service Employees International Union,, and activists from 25 countries is launching today a global campaign protesting special tax benefits and lack of transparency enjoyed by private equity firms.

Private equity has long been a favorite target of the 1.7 million member union, which says that their critique is particular relevant now as the companies “risky debt-laden deals” helped push the U.S. economy towards recession.

As part of their campaign, the SEIU is slamming presidential candidate John McCain for his ties to top private equity firm Kohlberg, Kravis and Roberts.

Last year, Ken Mehlman, an unpaid McCain campaign adviser and former chairman of the Republican National Committee, lobbied for KKR as a partner at the law firm Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld. KKR paid Akin, Gump more $1 million in lobbying fees last year.

Mehlman urged Congress to uphold a loophole that taxes a part of the compensation of private equity managers, known as carried interest, at the 15 percent capital gains rate instead of as standard income, which carries a maximum rate of 35 percent.  

In April, Mehlman joined KKR as the company’s head of global public affairs.
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