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Gabriel Gomez's private equity past

April 25, 2013: 11:59 AM ET

gomezSenate candidate Gomez shouldn't take "private" equity so literally.

FORTUNE -- Massachusetts next week will hold party primaries for those vying to succeed John Kerry in the U.S. Senate. On the Republican side is private equity executive Gabriel Gomez, who has worked for Boston-based firms Advent International and Summit Partners. He's considered an underdog to former U.S. Attorney Michael Sullivan, but also a more centrist candidate who could fare better in the general election.

But here's the thing about Gomez: In nearly nine years at Advent, he appears to have led only one deal and represented Advent on just four boards of directors (three of which were investments that predate his 2004 arrival at Advent). The only private equity deal mentioned on Gomez's campaign website is apparel company Lululemon (LULU), where he was involved on sourcing but was not one of two Advent investors who joined its board.

So I rang the Gomez campaign to ask about his seeming lack of deal leadership, and spokesman Will Ritter said that he'd speak with his candidate and get right back to me. And hour later I received a short email referring me "to Advent to answer questions about their business strategy or deal processes." Not too helpful, given that Advent already had told me that "as a matter of policy, we do not confirm attribution of investments by former employees."

Running out of options, I got in touch with a source familiar with Gomez's work at Advent. He tells me that Advent deals are almost always "led" by partners, so it isn't surprising that Gomez didn't have his name attached to many. Moreover, Gomez had lousy timing -- joining the firm's Boston office just as it was pulling back on U.S. investments in favor of international opportunities.

"A big part of Gabriel's role at Advent was organizing and managing deal sourcing," the source explains. "Initially, Gabriel was managing an associate sourcing program like he managed at Summit, later as the firm grew his role expanded to being the principal point of contact for all investment banks and Advent, both in the U.S. and globally. In this role he was involved in sourcing a number of deals, but wouldn't have been the official lead."

All makes sense, even though the source didn't explain why Gomez never made partner. What I really don't understand, however, is why the Gomez campaign couldn't say something similar. If you're going to run for elective office, your past nine years of work experience seems relevant. I wasn't asking about Advent's "business strategy" or "deal process" so much as I was asking what Gomez did for a living before asking Massachusetts voters for their support.

Blanket "no comments" make it seem like your candidate has something to hide. Did Gomez's staff learn nothing from Romney's presidential run? You'd think so, given that so many of them worked on it.

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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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