||Reshma Saujani (Photo: Bloomberg)|
Reshma Saujani built her career representing hedge funds as an elite financial lawyer. Now she hopes to apply those skills to help average New Yorkers.
Saujani launched her campaign to be New York City Public Advocate on April 23 using a populist tone. "I'm running for this office because New York deserves a Public Advocate who isn't just another politician, but a leader who advocates, delivers and gets things done for New Yorkers," said Saujani, a 37-year-old Democrat who ran unsuccessfully for U.S. Congress in 2010. "We need a voice loud enough to speak for everyone, driving the change we need to create good-paying jobs, give our kids the education they need for the jobs of today and tomorrow, and make sure all New Yorkers have access to safe, affordable housing."
Before entering politics in 2009, Yale Law-graduate Saujani spent several years in the hedge fund industry. After a stint at law firm Davis Polk & Wardwell, she worked from 2005 to 2006 as chief operating officer of Carret Asset Management's Carret Global India Fund, a fund of hedge funds. From 2006 to 2008, she was assistant general counsel at multistrategy hedge fund Carlyle-Blue Wave Partners, which liquidated in July 2008. And from 2008 to 2009, she was deputy general counsel and chief operating officer for liquid markets at now-$54 billion Fortress Investment Group, which runs several credit and macro hedge funds.
Her official campaign biography downplays her hedge fund experience. "As a lawyer in the financial services sector, Reshma sent money home to her parents every month to help them pay their mortgage, and became increasingly active in Democratic politics, supporting female candidates and engaging communities in the political process who had for too long been excluded," it reads, making no mention of Saujani's former firms and emphasizing the $200,000 student loan debt she needed to pay off.
Saujani--who more recently was the city's Deputy Public Advocate and the founder of nonprofit Girls Who Code--still has hedge fund supporters.
Donors to her new campaign, according to public records, include Peter Rajsingh of Castellar Partners, Sri Wijegoonaratna of Discovery Capital Management, Sumana Setty of Galle Global Macro Partners, Marc Friedman from Gracie Asset Management, Seema Hingoran of New York City's public pension plan, Craig Effron and Curtis Schenker of Scoggin Capital Management, and Salman Khan of Silver Point Capital.
In 2010, Saujani lost her congressional race to longtime U.S. Representative from New York Carolyn Maloney. Her supporters then included Marc and Cathy Lasry, who hosted a fundraiser that raised nearly $100,000. She also received donations from Anthony Davis of Anchorage Advisors, Peter Briger and Michael Novogratz of Fortress, and Paul Tudor Jones of Tudor Investment Group, among others.
Saujani embraced her time on Wall Street during that campaign. "[I'm] running on my Wall Street record, not from it," she told The New York Times in January 2010.