Edwards’ Ties to Fortress Raised in Iowa Campaign

John Edwards has made a career of finding ways to seek more wealth and power for himself while claiming altruistic goals. This includes his law career, his use of a Senate term primarily as a launching pad to run for the 2004 nomination,  working for Fortress, supposedly to learn about the business while claimed no knowledge of any of the more unsavory actions going on, as well as his current populist campaign aimed at Iowa Democrats.

Edwards has been criticized for campaigning against foreclosures on sub-prime loans after he worked for a lender which is responsible for many of these foreclosures. Fortress was also involved in shutting down the Maytag plant in Iowa. Edwards has often received too little scrutiny for his personal actions which contradict his rhetoric, but his relationship to Fortress has now become an issue in Iowa. The last straw may have been an ad praising Edwards, leading to a response from the Richardson campaign, as The Quad City Times reports:

A new ad praising Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards for his positions on behalf of American workers is coming under fire by rival Bill Richardson’s campaign, which says Edwards invested in a fund they allege has a role in the shutdown of Newton-based manufacturer Maytag.

The television ad by Working 4 Working Americans touts Edwards’ plans to end tax breaks for companies that move American jobs offshore.

The political organization is backed by the members of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners, which has endorsed Edwards in the primary fight.

But Richardson’s Iowa campaign director, Robert Becker, said the ad ignores the role of management firm Fortress Investment Group, where Edwards worked as an adviser, in closing Maytag’s Newton plant. Fortress held stock in Whirlpool, the company that bought out Maytag and shut the company’s doors.

“John Edwards was paid nearly half a million dollars by the same hedge fund at the time the Maytag plant was shuttered, and he had $16 million of his own fortune invested there,” Becker said in a statement. “Can John Edwards be a champion for jobs in Newton, Iowa, when he works for and invests in a hedge fund that helped eliminate those same jobs? If anything, Edwards probably owes those families an explanation.”

The article provides responses from the Edwards camp and concludes by mentioning similar criticism from the Obama campaign.

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