From Open Secrets:
As Goldman Sachs prepares for more unwelcome publicity tomorrow at a Senate Banking Committee hearing, these things are certain: The financial giant’s many lobbyists will be working in overdrive, and the company’s million-dollar PAC will be considering writing checks to a host of lawmakers — some of them on the House or Senate Banking Committees.
Spurred by a joint ProPublica and This American Life story, the hearing will focus in part on allegations that the New York Federal Reserve took a laissez-faire approach to Goldman’s activities. The allegations primarily come from a former Fed employee who released tapes of internal conversations suggesting favorable treatment for the bank. Another story describing coziness between the Fed and Goldman appeared in Thursday’s New York Times.
The tapes illustrate what seems to be a story of regulatory capture — the Stockholm syndrome of financial regulation, when regulators who are supposed to be monitoring a business and providing oversight instead advance its interests.
Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) will lead the questioning by the banking panel’s Financial Institutions and Consumer Protection Subcommittee. While the head of the New York Fed is the star witness, nobody from Goldman will be at the witness table. The company will be present in other ways, though: All but two of the subcommittee’s 15 members — Sens. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) and Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) — have received contributions from Goldman during their careers.
Goldman has donated a total of $1.1 million total to current subcommittee members since 1989 — $911,000 of which went to Democrats. More than half of that total went to one individual, Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.). In fact, considering his campaign committee and leadership PAC combined, Schumer has received more from Goldman over the course of his career than any other current member of the Senate — and more from Goldman than from any other organization.
Schumer’s campaign committee alone has taken in $543,240 from the firm, more than $500,000 of which came from individual employees.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) has unsurprisingly received a comparably low total of $18,000 from Goldman employees. Warren joined fellow Senate Democrat Joe Manchin (W.Va.) in penning a Monday op-ed for the Wall Street Journal mentioning the regulatory capture story and calling for President Obama to appoint strict regulators to the Fed’s Board of Governors.
Beyond that, Goldman spent $2.9 million on lobbying through the first three-quarters of this year, on pace to outstrip last year’s $3.6 million. According to its disclosure filings, Goldman has lobbied on the implementation of Dodd-Frank (the law passed after the 2008 financial crisis to more tightly regulate Wall Street) and a bill sponsored by Brown that would increase capital requirements for financial institutions.
While it isn’t required to list its positions on the issues, it’s logical that Goldman was lobbying to ease Dodd-Frank’s regulations and against Brown’s bill.
And Goldman employees have shown little claustrophobia when it comes to the revolving door. Seventy-eight people who have worked or lobbied for Goldman in the last five years have also worked for the government before or after their employ with the bank. Twenty of them work for Goldman currently.
Two of Goldman’s revolvers also worked for the Federal Reserve, including Theo Lubke, who, after 15 years as a regulator at the New York Fed, left to become chief regulatory reform officer at Goldman in 2010. At the Fed, Lubke had helped craft changes to the derivatives market.
Goldman Sachs has a long history of financially backing the Democratic party and its candidates. Until recently, though it supported both parties, Goldman spent at least 55 percent of its campaign money on Democrats in every election cycle at least as far back as 1990. Its Democratic support peaked in 2008, when enthusiasm for Obama pushed the needle so far to the left that Democrats received three-quarters of Goldman’s campaign cash.
That support ended in the 2010 cycle after bankers and deregulation were blamed by Democrats — including Obama — for the financial near-catastrophe and Dodd-Frank was passed. In the 2012 election cycle, Goldman went all in for Mitt Romney.
Goldman’s rightward lean continued in this year’s midterms. While the firm’s PAC split its $982,000 in gifts equally between Democratic and Republican candidates, as well as between the four major congressional party committees, employees again favored the GOP.
The Democrats who received the most from Goldman this cycle were Rep. Jim Himes (Conn.) and Sen. Cory Booker (N.J.). Himes is a former Goldman employee and Booker is a vocal Wall Street supporter geographically tied to the industry.
Goldman’s support could be set to swing back to Democrats should Hillary Clinton throw her hat in the presidential ring, as William Cohan wrote in Politico last week. Clinton has close ties to Wall Street and to Goldman CEO Lloyd Blankfein. Cohan went so far as to suggest the possibility that Blankfein might just go the way of his predecessor Robert Rubin and give the door a good, hard spin — by leaving Goldman Sachs and joining a Clinton White House.