Kennedy Exposes Predatory Private Equity Behavior, Defends Small Business Owners

LOS ANGELES, CA—FEB. 7, 2024—Independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. today released Small Business vs. Private Equity Goliaths,” part of his American Stories series. This episode is of a conversation he had with Tiffany Cianci, a former owner of The Little Gym in Frederick, Maryland. Cianci shares her horrid story of what happened after her beloved franchise was acquired by a private equity-backed firm.

“When they bought our company, they told us we had to pay them more money and buy new services that our contracts didn’t allow for, and if we didn’t, we would lose everything,” Cianci said. 

Cianci hired a lawyer to fight the takeover but the private equity firm, operating under the umbrella company, Unleashed Brands, responded by terminating her contract and orchestrating an elaborate smear campaign damaging Cianci’s reputation to friends, family, and her franchise association. Unleashed Brands bribed Cianci’s landlord with $120,000 to take away her location. The firm was found guilty of defamation, but the damage to Cianci’s life and business was done.

Unfortunately, Cianci is not alone in this type of David vs. Goliath corporate acquisition fight.

“Private equity firms are now doing this all over the country to franchise owners,” Kennedy said. “This has hurt small businesses and the consumer. It’s destroying our communities and allowing Wall Street to vacuum up the wealth from Main Street.”

The $8 trillion private equity industry has been aggressively acquiring hundreds of franchise brands in recent years while using its massive profits to influence our elections. Private equity firms spent $262 million on campaign contributions and $70 million on lobbying during the 2020 election cycle and made nearly $150 million in campaign contributions during the 2022 midterm elections.

“The people need a chance and we don’t have one right now,” Cianci said. “There’s not going to be anything left for the small business owners and the middle class.” 

As President, Kennedy will redirect the National Economic Council to pursue strategies to protect small businesses, consumers, and our communities from Wall Street’s predatory behavior. He will pursue reforms to break the corrupt merger between corporate and state power. Americans have been left with a crony capitalist economy that has increased the wealth gap and dismantled the middle class. 

“We are losing our democracy and middle class to an emerging and abusive oligarchy,” Kennedy said. “In the coming months, my policy team will roll out an aggressive Wall Street reform package that will call for greater transparency, stronger regulatory oversight, and tougher penalties for market manipulation and criminal behavior.”

Watch Kennedy’s other American Stories — Aunt Angie’s House,” “Church Shooting in Charleston,” andHalf a Pill.”

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