Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton will visit Philadelphia on Jan. 27 for a fund-raiser hosted by a group that includes lawyer-turned-investment mogul Michael C. Forman and former State Rep. Michael Gerber (D., Mont.) at their $17 billion "alternative investments" firm, Franklin Square Capital Partners.
Rocker Jon Bon Jovi will play an acoustic set for donors - including "friends," who give at least $1,000; "family," couples and kids, who get their photos snapped with the candidate for $2,700 (that's also the limit donors may give to each of the primary and general elections); and "hosts," who bundle $27,000 in contributions.
Campaign staffer Giancarlo Stefanoni, who is collecting event pledges, referred questions to Clinton spokesman Josh Schwerin, who declined to comment.
Forman is cofounder, chairman, and CEO and Gerber executive vice president at Franklin Square Capital Partners, which has grown since its 2007 founding to employ more than 300 people, including 215 at its South Philadelphia headquarters.
The event shows some closing of ranks by donors who might have spread among a variety of candidates in a larger field.
Donors might "have had to make a decision" on whom to back if Vice President Biden, a local favorite, had decided to run against Clinton, said national Democratic fund-raiser Alan Kessler, Clinton's 2008 finance chairman. A partner at Duane Morris L.L.P., Kessler worked with then-lawyers Gerber and Forman on campaigns for high-profile Democrats like Bill Clinton and Ed Rendell in earlier election cycles.
What about Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont? Kessler said he had a hard time naming area elected officials or leading donors who feel the Bern. "It doesn't seem like people here have jumped his way," he said.
Besides boosting Clinton, the event allows the Franklin Square officials to showcase their firm for a high-powered audience. Franklin Square employs Ivy League-educated money managers and salespeople with experience at big Wall Street firms - plus four personal trainers and a dietitian to keep staff happy and productive amid the gym, yoga and nap rooms, Sol LeWitt art installations, and fancy cafeteria.
Investors rained assets on the company during the financial crisis of the late 2000s, as brokers urged disappointed stock and bond investors to buy Franklin Square funds focused on high-yield and junk-rated debt, energy and other profitable assets. The firm broadened its products and distribution network after 2010, with yields still relatively high even as asset values decline in volatile markets.
In interviews last summer, Forman and Gerber said they want to attract money managers to the city the way older investment firms like Susquehanna International Group, Vanguard Group, and SEI Corp. draw pros to suburban campuses. "These are great jobs in a sector that's been shrinking in Philadelphia," Gerber said at the time.
Gerber and Forman declined to talk about Clinton's visit.
Philadelphia is a regular stop on her fund-raising tours, as it was for Bill Clinton when he ran in 1992 and 1996. The former president also collected outside of campaigns. For example, he was paid $200,000 for a 2012 speech by Malvern-based Vanguard Group, the mutual fund giant. The company said it hosted Clinton to promote "diversity of thought" at a corporate client event.