Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Wondering If There Are Any Wall Street Whores Trying To Get The Democratic 2020 Nomination?


A headline by Julie Bykowicz and Ken Thomas in this morning's Wall Street Journal-- Joe Biden’s Expected 2020 Bid Is Likely to Rely on Big Donors-- makes it perfectly clear which lane Biden is going for in the 2020 nomination battle: the status quo, conservative lane financed by the rich, not by the party's grassroots. And Status Quo Joe is aware how creepy and reactionary that looks. The Journal piece reports that "He has expressed concern to Democratic fundraisers that he won’t be able to make a splash with early online donations the way Mr. Sanders and other candidates have." That's because he spent a career spanning decades kissing up to banksters and corporate executives and ignoring the legitimate interests of working families to super-serve the rich and powerful.

Last January, Ben White reported for Politico that Wall Street was freaking out. As much as many of the top banksters want to see Trump done, what they don't want is Bernie or Elizabeth Warren-- harbingers of profound and fundamental change-- getting into the White House. They were most excited about Michael Bloomberg but they were open to some others as well: "After mentioning Bloomberg, Wall Street executives who want Trump out list a consistent roster of appealing nominees that includes former Vice President Joe Biden and Sens. Cory Booker of New Jersey, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and Kamala Harris of California. Others meriting mention: former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, former Maryland Rep. John Delaney and former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke, though fewally know his positions. Bankers’ biggest fear: The nomination goes to an anti-Wall Street crusader like Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) or Sanders. 'It can’t be Warren and it can’t be Sanders,' said the CEO of another giant bank. 'It has to be someone centrist and someone who can win.'... [O]ne hedge fund manager and top Democratic donor: 'If it’s Biden and Beto or Biden and Harris, that might make a difference. The good news for Biden is everyone likes him. The bad news is there is not a lot of passion.'"

Now, 3 months later people are wondering which of the candidates are actual Wall Street whores... and which ones are more likely to protect society from Wall Street banksters? Branko Marcetic, reporting for In These Times, figured out that the worst corporate shills are Cory Booker, Kamala Harris and Kirsten Gillibrand.
The 2020 Democratic presidential race has so far featured a common theme: candidates clamoring to demonstrate who will most fearlessly take on corporate America. Across the field, Democrats have staked out progressive-- and at times startlingly new—positions on everything from instituting single-payer healthcare to reviving the Glass-Steagall Act, rejected corporate PAC money and refused to take lobbyist cash, all in a bid to prove their progressive bona fides.

“These numbers reveal a campaign powered by the people,” said a member of California Sen. Kamala Harris' campaign about her first 24-hour donation haul. “The system is being rigged by people with money and people with power,” said New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker as he pledged not to “take a dime from corporate PACs.” “I think it's important for people to know my values are never for sale,” said New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand.

But even as these candidates vocally reject corporate America, their latest fundraising reports show corporate America hasn't rejected them. In These Times examined the April 15 FEC filings of the leading Democratic candidates—Cory Booker, Pete Buttigieg, Kirsten Gillibrand, Kamala Harris, Beto O'Rourke, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren—and analyzed the donations they received from employees of the six largest U.S. banks (J.P. Morgan Chase, Bank of America, Citigroup, Wells Fargo, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley) and the world's six largest private equity firms (The Carlyle Group, Blackstone, KKR, Apollo Global Management, CVC Capital Partners and Warburg Pincus).

While these firms don’t represent the totality of corporate America, their profits ride on the continued growth of corporations, and they remain deeply financially invested in maintaining the status quo in policy areas such as taxes, healthcare, pharmaceuticals and the environment.

Wall Street, a fundraising backbone for the Democratic Party, guides many decisions in Washington around these policies. The support a candidate receives from these financial behemoths is instructive in judging how far they would go as president in siding with progressives and bucking moneyed interests. Not to mention that failing to properly regulate and break up the nation's largest banks-- which are now bigger than they were before the 2008 crash and are again engaging in risky lending-- could lead to another devastating crash, as Johns Hopkins University economics professor Lawrence Ball has warned.

The findings show that, despite candidates’ stated antipathy toward Wall Street, a number of them are benefitting greatly from executives and employees of these financial firms.

By far the candidate most favored by these 12 firms is New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, who received a total of $88,492 from them over the first quarter.

Booker, who jumpstarted and then fuelled his political career with contributions from the finance world, has in recent years attempted to shed his Wall Street-friendly reputation. Booker drew particular scorn during the 2012 presidential campaign, when then-President Obama was leading a populist-tinged assault on opponent Mitt Romney's time as head of private equity firm Bain Capital.

Booker called these criticisms “ridiculous” and “nauseating.” “Stop attacking private equity. Stop attacking Jeremiah Wright,” he said on Meet the Press, appearing to equate criticism of the industry to the racially tinged criticism of Obama's relationship to Wright, his former pastor, throughout 2008. After getting a call from an Obama aide, Booker walked back his defense of private equity in a YouTube video in which he encouraged scrutiny of Romney's business record. Then a few months later, in an interview with the Wall Street Journal, he described it as a “hostage video” and called filming it a “dumb decision.”

...[I]t's the private equity world that was most generous to Booker, who in the past quarter received a total of $49,500 from four of the world's six largest firms. Booker received $10,200 from Blackstone, a firm awash in controversy for everything from its slumlord practices after snapping up much of the United States' foreclosed housing stock to a plan hatched by one of its executives during the 2016 election to put Americans' retirement savings into hedge funds. Booker received $2,800 from Blackstone’s executive vice chair, Hamilton “Tony” James, who in 2012 echoed Booker's complaints about Obama's criticisms of the private equity industry.

Apollo Global Management (AGM) has shown a particular affinity for Booker, with 28 of its employees showering him with a total of $32,100. Donors from AGM included not only investors and portfolio managers, but the firm's chief legal and financial officers, four of its partners and the global head of its “human capital” division. Like many private equity firms, Apollo has been criticized for its use of leveraged buyouts to acquire businesses, often leading to job losses and even bankruptcy, as when cloud computing company Rackspace laid off 275 employees in 2017 mere months after being acquired by Apollo.

...Like Booker, Gillibrand is also a prolific Wall Street fundraiser with a past checkered by siding with the industry in Congress who has, since Trump's victory, worked to turn over a new leaf. The protégé of fellow New York Sen. Chuck Schumer-- himself no slouch when it comes to soliciting hefty campaign contributions-- Gillibrand has said in the past that “raising money is the very same effort as developing a grassroots advocacy.” Gillibrand had previously worked against instituting new rules around derivatives proposed by federal regulators, with the New York Times accusing her of “going against the cause of reform.”

...Then there's California Sen. Kamala Harris, who received a total of $44,947 from these 12 firms. Harris, who was once branded a “bankster's worst nightmare,” and has touted her prosecutorial record against banks as evidence of her progressive credibility, received donations from five executives of these firms. They include Blackstone managing director Tia Breakley, Morgan Stanley's new head of international wealth management Colbert Narcisse, Bank of America senior vice president for diversity and inclusion Alex Rhodes, and Goldman Sachs vice president of financial crime compliance Margaret Cullum.

Harris's most enthusiastic source of support among these firms, however, is Wells Fargo, from whose employees she received a total of $16,713-- the most funding from the bank out of any other candidate examined. The donors span multiple tiers of the bank's hierarchy, from bankers and consultants, to a regional director and a manager, to executives like National Head of Cards and Retail Services Beverly Anderson, both of whom gave the maximum individual donation of $2,800 to Harris.

Wells Fargo's generosity to Harris raises eyebrows for several reasons. For one, the bank was one of the key players in the 2008 financial crisis, paying billions of dollars worth of fines for its contributions to the crash, and it has continued to earn legal sanction for doing things like opening up accounts without customers' consent and accidentally foreclosing on hundreds of customers between 2010 and 2015. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders has called the bank “the poster child for greed, recklessness and illegal behavior,” and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren has made it a particular target of her campaign, calling for the firing of its CEO and for colleges to stop letting it market financial services to students.

The other cause for concern is Harris's role in the 2012 foreclosure settlement with Bank of America, Wells Fargo, JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup and Ally Bank, a key element of her current campaign pitch. While Harris played hardball to get more money from the firms, reporter David Dayen has called the settlement she helped negotiate “a blight on this country” for its grossly inadequate relief to foreclosed homeowners.
There's another way to do this, tracking the money that has flowed to members of Congress-- so, not McKinsey Pete, obviously-- from the FIRE Sector: Finance, Insurance, Real Estate. These figures show how much these candidates have reported getting from the sector while they've held federal office:
Kirsten Gillibrand- $10,101,695
Cory Booker- $5,988,41
Beto O'Rourke- $4,454,825
Joe Biden- $4,164,034

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At 10:13 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


It's pretty clear that MOST candidates are. Why else would so many come crawling out of the shadows when the choice of the party can't even find the courage to declare his candidacy, the favorite of the voters is under attack by the party whose nomination he seeks, and a candidate mayor -clearly attracted to corporate money- is the favorite of the media.

Amid such a circus, the guy selling cotton candy in the stands could win the nomination. Ukraine just elected a television comedian to be their political leader!

At 3:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why, no, in fact. I was not wondering. I fucking know they all are. Even Bernie and Elizabeth endorsed and campaigned for the worlds' greatest wall street whore in 2016.

You wasted HOW many words?


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