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Paul Ryan's major private equity connection

August 14, 2012: 12:20 PM ET

Paul's big bro

Vice presidential candidate's brother involved with private equity, Bain.

FORTUNE -- Rep. Paul Ryan only has been Mitt Romney's running mate for a few days, but he has a much longer connection to another private equity executive: Tobin Ryan, Paul's older brother and a partner with Seidler Equity Partners.

Seidler is located just outside of Los Angeles, but Tobin Ryan works out of his home state of Wisconsin. He joined the firm in October 2010, following a three-year stint with local private equity firm King Equity.

Before that, he served as chief operating officer for Tomah Products, a maker of industrial ammonia that is now owned by Air Products & Chemicals Inc. (APD). It was during Ryan's time at Tomah that he first got to know the folks at Seidler, when the firm helped sponsor a management buyout from another outside shareholder. Tomah's CEO at the time, Steve King, is a major player in Wisconsin's Republican Party, last year serving as one of three transition team members for newly-elected RNC chair Reince Priebus.

Oh, and if you go back far enough, Tobin Ryan also happened to work as a manager with consulting firm Bain & Company (although Romney had returned to Bain Capital by the time Ryan joined).

"We're very close," Tobin Ryan told Fox News host Greta Van Sustren during an interview last night, in which private equity was not discussed. "We shared a bedroom growing up... Now we're raising our families together in Janesville, and [live] about a three-wood away from each other."

So we've now got a former private equity executive running for president alongside the brother of a current private equity executive. Perhaps one of these days we'll learn if either one of them supports the industry's favorite tax break, in which partner profits ("carried interest") is treated as capital gains, rather than as ordinary income.

Paul Ryan's 2010 budget proposal called for an elimination of all capital gains taxes (he dropped that language for his more recent version), but also makes vague reference to closing various tax loopholes. In other words, either he wants a lower tax on carried interest or he wants it treated as ordinary income. He does not appear to have ever specifically discussed carried interest.

Mitt Romney said in 2007 that he felt carried interest should remain treated as a capital gain, but has steadfastly refused to answer the question this time around.

I reached out yesterday to a Romney/Ryan campaign spokeswoman for clarification, but received no reply.

As for Tobin Ryan, carried interest may not yet be an issue. He joined Sediler just after the firm raised its $260 million fourth fund, but the vehicle has not yet generated any substantive returns (according to CalPERS).

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About This Author
Dan Primack
Dan Primack
Senior Editor, Fortune

Dan Primack joined Fortune.com in September 2010 to cover deals and dealmakers, from Wall Street to Sand Hill Road. Previously, Dan was an editor-at-large with Thomson Reuters, where he launched both peHUB.com and the peHUB Wire email service. In a past journalistic life, Dan ran a community paper in Roxbury, Massachusetts. He currently lives just outside of Boston.

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