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Obama's Budget Director a Bain Guy, Married a Bain Gal

4:27 PM, Jul 16, 2012 • By DANIEL HALPER
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President Obama's rhetoric would suggest that he's against Bain (both Bain Capital, the investment firm, and Bain Consulting, the consulting firm, as he makes little distinction between the two Bains where Mitt Romney worked in the past). But Obama's own hiring practice suggests something a little different: His own budget director is a Bain guy who married a Bain gal.

Jeff Zients is the head of the Obama administration's Office of Management and Budget. "Like Mitt Romney, the man who would unseat his boss, Mr. Zients (rhymes with science) got his professional start at Bain Consulting," the Wall Street Journal reports.

Zients has only praise, it would seem, for Bain: 

After graduating in 1988, Mr. Zients started as a consultant at Bain & Co. in Boston, where he "fell in love with Bain's culture, teamwork…and analytical rigor," according to a Bain alumni newsletter. (He didn't work with Mr. Romney, who already had left to start Bain Capital.)

At Bain, Mr. Zients reported to Mary Menell, four years his senior, who became his wife, with whom he now has four children. They were married in Mrs. Zients's homeland of South Africa, with Nelson Mandela, her parents' friend, in attendance.

Mr. Zients left Bain to return to Washington and become an entrepreneur. He helped run Advisory Board Co., a research firm, and its spinoff, Corporate Executive Board, which together grew to more than 1,000 employees, and launched an initial public offering for each. In 2002, Fortune magazine named Mr. Zients in its list of the 40 richest Americans under 40. His net worth is conservatively estimated at around $200 million.

After Mr. Zients donated to 2008 Democratic presidential candidates Mr. Obama and Sen. Hillary Clinton, an unexpected door opened. Mr. Obama set up a new position, "chief performance officer," to cut bureaucracy, but the original nominee was forced to withdraw over a tax controversy. A fellow entrepreneur, Virginia Sen. Mark Warner, says he floated Mr. Zients's name.

And as the Journal explains, "[Zients] oversees the administration's budget content and message, which are central to the president's argument that he has a balanced plan for the economy while Republicans would rip the country's social fabric and undermine the education and infrastructure needed to succeed economically."

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