1) George HW Bush
No firm better represents the political-private equity intersection better than The Carlyle Group, which over the years has employed figures such as former US President George HW Bush (right), former UK Prime Minister John Major, and former US Secretary of State James Baker. Such high-profile connections have helped make Carlyle one of the biggest players in the industry, as well as fed some far-fetched conspiracy theories about its influence on world affairs.
2) Mitt Romney
It looked as if the industry might produce the first private equity president, when former Massachusetts governor and Bain Capital co-founder Mitt Romney threw his hat in the ring for the Republican nomination in 2008. Although Romney eventually lost to John McCain, he continues giving speeches and is considered a leading prospect to challenge President Barack Obama in 2012.
3) Tagg Romney
While Mitt pursues the top political post in the US, his son Tagg Romney is continuing in the family mould as the co-founder of newly established private equity firm Solamere Capital. Tagg is also maintaining links with Washington by bringing in former Missouri governor Matt Blunt as a senior adviser.
4) Barack Obama
With private equity's favourite son Mitt Romney out of the race by early 2008, Obama (left) ended up leading challenger McCain in industry campaign contributions, although McCain won the support of some buyout giants like Henry Kravis and Stephen Schwarzman. However, some of Obama's private equity supporters may be feeling buyers' remorse in the wake of his plans to raise taxes on carried interest.
5) Al Gore
Following his marginal loss in the 2000 election, Al Gore began his re-emergence as a public figure by becoming vice chairman of Los Angeles-based financial firm Metropolitan West Financial, where he helped to source private equity investments in biotechnology and information technology. Since then Gore has ridden his global warming agenda to an Oscar and Nobel Prize.
6) John Edwards
Following another Democratic loss in the US presidential elections in 2004, vice presidential candidate John Edwards (right) joined New York-based alternative investment firm Fortress Investment Group as an adviser. But although he tried to make his own bid for the White House in 2008, his campaign hit a wall and stories soon surfaced that he had an illegitimate child from an affair with a member of his staff.
7) Steve Rattner
Despite some of the controversial proposals coming out of the White House, a number of private equity players have been eager to take a position with the Obama administration. Quadrangle Group co-founder Steve Rattner joined the Treasury Department as an automotive sector adviser – only to resign a few months later – while Centerbridge co-founder Mark Gallogly and John Doerr of Kleiner Perkins Caulfield & Beyers were named to the president's Economic Recovery Advisory Board.
8) Colin Powell
John Doerr's connections in Washington span both sides of the aisle, as he successfully wooed former Republican Secretary of State Colin Powell (left) to Kleiner Perkins as a strategic limited partner in 2005, while more recently adding Al Gore as a partner as well. Powell's son, former Federal Communications Commission chairman Michael Powell, joined Providence Equity Partners as a senior adviser.
9) Kenneth Mehlman
Although Kohlberg Kravis Roberts has traditionally been low-key about its operations, the firm in 2008 hired Kenneth Mehlman, the manager of former US President George W Bush's re-election campaign, to head its newly created global public affairs division. The efforts to open itself up more to the public came ahead of the firm's listing on the Euronext exchange in early October.
10) Stephen Pagliuca
The next Mitt Romney may again be originating from Bain Capital, with Stephen Pagliuca recently leaving the firm to run for a senate seat in Massachusetts. Whether he eventually makes a bid for the White House like his predecessor remains to be seen.