By NEDRA PICKLER
Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON (AP) - Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards said Tuesday that he worked for a hedge fund to learn more about financial markets and their relationship to poverty in the United States.
Edwards won't disclose how much he got paid as a consultant to Fortress Investment Group, but said he did keep the money.
"It was primarily to learn, but making money was a good thing, too," the 2004 vice presidential nominee said in an interview with The Associated Press.
He said the amount he was paid will be revealed when he releases his financial disclosure forms.
Fortress Investment Group, founded in 1998, describes itself as "a leading global alternative asset manager" with approximately $35.1 billion in assets under management as of December 31, 2006. The company is headquartered in New York with affiliates around the world.
Edwards said it's legitimate to ask questions about whether there is a contradiction between campaigning against poverty while working for a hedge fund that is designed to make rich people richer. He said the job was a compliment to his position as the head of a poverty center at the University of North Carolina.
"I didn't feel like I understand, and to be honest with you still learning right now, sort of the relationship between that world and the way money moves in this country through financial markets," Edwards said.
Edwards said he also spoke to some Wall Street investment firms such as Goldman Sachs besides exploring the position with Fortress. He said his role was to advise the firm about what he saw happening economically in the United States and during his travels overseas. U.S. hedge funds, now numbering more than 9,000 with assets estimated to exceed $1 trillion, traditionally catered to the rich, as well as pension funds and university endowments, but are increasingly luring less wealthy investors.
Fortress was the single biggest employer of Edwards donors during the first three months of the year. Donors who listed "Fortress" as their employer contributed $67,450 to Edwards' campaign and supporters who identified their employer as "Fortress Investment Group" gave $55,200 to the campaign, according to Federal Election Commission records.
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