Goldman is going GOP

For the first time in at least 20 years, the company is giving more campaign money to Republicans than to Democrats.

By TheStreet Staff Sep 10, 2010 10:20AM

By Dan Freed, TheStreet


Goldman Sachs (GS) is tilting toward the Republican Party for the first time in at least 20 years, even as the rest of Wall Street favors Democrats in its political contributions.


Data from the Center for Responsive Politics shows Goldman giving more money to Republicans for the first time since it began keeping records in 1990.


During that 20-year period covering 11 election cycles, Goldman has donated nearly $21 million to Democrats, nearly double the $12 million it has handed out to Republicans.


This time around, however, Goldman has handed out roughly $914,000 to Republican candidates, compared with $776,000 to Democrats. Goldman has been the top donor among securities companies in every election cycle since 1990 except for 1994, when it was second to Merrill Lynch.

A Goldman spokeswoman declined to comment.


The move is especially noteworthy because Goldman has tended to be more Democratic in its political leanings than other Wall Street companies, and though much has been written lately about Wall Street, including prominent Democrats like JPMorgan Chase (JPM) boss Jamie Dimon, being fed up with the Obama administration, the securities industry has nonetheless donated more money to Democrats than Republicans in the latest election cycle.


Goldman is the largest political donor on Wall Street by a comfortable margin, having spread out $1.6 million among various candidates.


Among companies the CRP classifies as securities firms, Goldman was followed by Morgan Stanley (MS) ($1.1 million), Credit Suisse (CS) ($900 million) and UBS (UBS) ($800 million). But Goldman also outspent JPMorgan and Citigroup (C), which the center classifies as commercial banks, and Bank of America (BAC), which gets credit for $500 million as a securities company and $900 million as a bank.


Not surprisingly, New York's two Democratic senators, Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, were the top recipients of campaign donations from securities and investment companies.


Among lesser-known candidates who got big money from Wall Street were Rep. Mark Kirk, a former military man running for the Senate in Illinois, and Pat Toomey, a former congressman and Wall Street executive running as a Republican for the Senate in Pennsylvania. Each of those candidates received about $100,000 from hedge fund Elliott Management, the main reason they ranked so highly among politicians receiving donations from the securities and investment industries.

The securities industry's main lobbying arm, the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association, declined to discuss the issues it is focusing on in the mid-term elections.

The securities association's campaign donations showed increasing support for Democrats versus previous cycles, with overall contributions way down in the current cycle compared with 2008 and 2006. Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, the ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, got the biggest check, fo $6,500.


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