Treasury Nominee Is a Major GOP Donor
Goldman Sachs CEO Hank Paulson has contributed generously to Republicans—more than outgoing secretary John Snow. Paulson’s wife and employees favor Democrats, however.
May 30, 2006 | In nominating Goldman Sachs CEO Hank Paulson to be the next Secretary of the Treasury, President Bush tapped a major Republican donor who has been more generous to the party than outgoing secretary John Snow. While Paulson has a long record of giving to Republicans, his wife and his employees at Goldman Sachs favor Democrats, according to research by the non-partisan Center for Responsive Politics.
The Center found that Paulson and his wife, Wendy, have contributed more than $426,000 since 1989 to federal candidates, party committees and political action committees controlled by members of Congress. Most of the money—$370,000—has gone to Republicans, almost all of it from the Treasury nominee himself. His wife has given three-quarters of her share to Democrats.
The biggest beneficiaries of Hank Paulson’s giving have been the national Republican committees dedicated to electing party members to Congress, which have received more than $118,000 from him. Paulson’s contributions to President Bush have been small—just $2,000 in 2004 and nothing toward Bush’s 2000 election, apparently. Wendy Paulson has never made a donation to George W. Bush, but did contribute to his father's presidential campaign in 1992. In 2000, the Paulsons contributed to Bush’s rival for the Republican presidential nomination, Sen. John McCain of Arizona. By the 2004 re-election campaign, Hank Paulson had become one of Bush’s top fundraisers, raising at least $100,000 from other donors.
Snow and his wife, Carolyn, have contributed more to Bush than the Paulsons but far less money overall. More faithfully Republican than the Paulsons, the Snows have contributed $77,500 since 1990—95% to the GOP and its candidates. Their giving has trailed off since Snow became treasury secretary in 2003.
The Paulsons have given about $55,000 to Democrats, or just 13% of their overall contributions since ’89. Nearly all the Democratic money has come from Wendy Paulson, who typically lists her occupation on contribution disclosure forms as “homemaker” or “volunteer.”
Wendy Paulson has given $6,000 to New York Sen. Hillary Clinton’s campaigns and $5,000 to her political action committee, HILLPAC. Together, the Paulsons have given $10,000 to the Democratic Party of Idaho. For her $5,000 gift to the state party, Wendy Paulson listed her occupation as “conservationist.” She has served on the board of the Nature Conservancy, and her husband has most recently served as board chairman.
In addition to the couple's contributions to candidates and parties, Wendy Paulson has been a major contributor to the League of Conservation Voters' 527 fund, which campaigned for Democrat John Kerry and against George W. Bush in the 2004 presidential election. She has given at least $401,000 to the League's political activities since 2000.
While Hank Paulson backs Republicans mostly, his employees at Goldman Sachs favor Democrats. Since 1989, contributors associated with the investment bank have given about $23 million to federal candidates and political parties. More than 60% of the money has gone to Democrats.
That support has largely come from individuals employed by Goldman Sachs. The investment bank’s own political action committee tends to back Republicans, and Paulson has contributed more than $55,000 to his firm's PAC since 1989. In the current cycle, nearly 70% of the PAC’s $200,000 in contributions has gone to Republican candidates. In the 2004 campaign, President Bush received more than $390,000 from Goldman Sachs and its employees, while his opponent, Kerry, received nearly $300,000.
Goldman Sachs is one of Wall Street’s most prestigious investment banks. Like others in the securities industry, it advises and invests in nearly every industry affected by federal legislation. The firm closely monitors economic policy, trade and legislation that governs the financial sector. It has been a major proponent of privatizing Social Security as well as legislation that would essentially deregulate the investment banking/securities industry. Members of the congressional committees that regulate finance, banking and commerce have benefited especially from Goldman Sachs’ largesse.
In 2004, the last year for which the Center for Responsive Politics has complete data, Goldman Sachs spent $1.2 million on federal lobbying. The firm reported lobbying the Department of the Treasury and the White House, in addition to Congress and other government agencies.
Paulson is not the first Goldman Sachs executive to trade a multi-million-dollar paycheck for a government salary. The Wall Street firm's leaders have been installed in both Republican and Democratic administrations, giving Goldman direct access to policy makers. Robert Rubin left Goldman to become President Clinton’s Treasury Secretary, and former chief executive Jon Corzine served in the U.S. Senate as a Democrat from New Jersey. Corzine is now the state’s governor. He has received more in contributions from Goldman Sachs than any other candidate since 1990.
Paulson is the latest Treasury nominee whom President Bush has plucked from corporate America and an industry regulated by the department. Snow had been the top executive of a transportation company, CSX, before coming to Washington. His predecessor, Paul O’Neill, had been chairman of Alcoa, the aluminum producer.
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