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John Edwards Hits the Street

By Emily Thornton Wall Street has long provided a soft landing for out-of-work pols. But increasingly, the revolving door leads to private investment firms. The Street's latest recruit: John Edwards, the ex-North Carolina senator and Vice-Presidential standard bearer for the Democratic Party in the 2004 elections.

BusinessWeek has learned that Edwards has signed up to work for the New York-based private investment concern Fortress Investment Group as a part-time senior advisor. As such, he will be "providing support in developing investment opportunities worldwide and strategic advice on global economic issues," says Edwards spokesperson Kim Rubey. Fortress declined to comment about hiring Edwards, who teamed up with Massachusetts Senator John Kerry in a losing bid against President George Bush and Vice-President Dick Cheney last year.

USEFUL EXPERIENCE. Edwards joins a growing line of policymakers turned dealmakers. Former Veep Dan Quayle has been sealing deals around the world for hedge fund group Cerberus Capital Management ever since he dropped out of the 2000 Presidential race.

Ex-New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani has set up his own investment banking advisory firm -- Giuliani Capital Advisors. He also chairs the board of advisors to Leeds Weld & Co., where former Massachusetts Governor William Weld was a principal until recently. Weld has reduced his role to a senior advisor while considering a run for New York governor.

Edwards was a highly successful trial lawyer in the Tarheel State before going into politics. But his experience in Washington should serve him well as a global financial adviser. He was on the Senate Intelligence Committee in Congress and boned up on global economics during the 2004 Presidential campaign for a nationally televised debate with Cheney. Edwards now serves as a co-chair of a Council on Foreign Relations task force on U.S.-Russia relations.

DEM LEANINGS. Fortress apparently has had its eye on Democratic politics and Edwards for some time. During the 2004 Presidential campaign cycle, the employees political action committee of the company contributed $143,650 to Democratic candidates for Congress and the White House, including $4,000 to Edwards. They gave just $10,500 to Republicans running for federal office.

The company has some $15 billion in equity under management, nearly half of which is tied up in hedge funds. Its recent acquisitions include stakes in assisted-living provider Alterra Healthcare and newspaper chain Liberty Group Publishing. Thornton is an editor for BusinesWeek

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