Who is Wall Street’s favorite presidential candidate?
Wall Street employees gave more money to Jeb Bush than any other presidential candidate, while Hillary Clinton came in second. Could this present a political vulnerability for them?
Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton appear to be Wall Street donors’ go-to presidential candidates, at least in the third quarter of this year, according to a new report from Reuters.
Mr. Bush raised about $107,000 from employees of various big banks, including Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, Morgan Stanley, and others. That’s more than any other candidate in either party has raised from Wall Street, and outpaces Mrs. Clinton, the Democratic front-runner, who comes in second after raising about $84,000 from the same banks.
It is not clear what portion of the donations were solicited.
Bush, the former governor of Florida, took in $13.4 million last quarter, so the portion from bank employees is rather insignificant. The same goes for Clinton, who raised more than any other candidate in either party the past three months: $28 million, according to NBC News.
No other candidates came close to raising as much money from Wall Street as Clinton or Bush. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio took in over $25,000 and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz raised $17,000.
Bush has been falling behind Donald Trump, Ben Carson, and Carly Fiorina in recent polls during a GOP primary season that has been dominated by anti-establishment candidates. Receiving the most donations from Wall Street could become a vulnerability for Bush, who is striving to detach himself from his family legacy and appeal to the conservative voters who political outsider candidates seem to have poached.
But Clinton could face even more scrutiny, particularly since progressives have already been skeptical about her ties to Wall Street. CNN reported that Clinton earned $3.15 million in 2013 by giving speeches to Wall Street banks and investment houses, about a third of her speech income at the time. Meanwhile, under President Bill Clinton, banking restrictions in the Depression-era Glass-Steagall Act were eased in 1999, which some have argued contributed to the 2008 financial crisis and the worst recession since the Great Depression. The Clinton campaign has said the candidate will not support reinstating the restrictions.
And in November of 2014, before Clinton announced her campaign, Politico’s William D. Cohan reported on why some on Wall Street see an opportunity in the former secretary of State:
While the finance industry does genuinely hate [Senator Elizabeth] Warren, the big bankers love Clinton, and by and large they badly want her to be president. Many of the rich and powerful in the financial industry—among them, Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein, Morgan Stanley CEO James Gorman, Tom Nides, a powerful vice chairman at Morgan Stanley, and the heads of JPMorganChase and Bank of America—consider Clinton a pragmatic problem-solver not prone to populist rhetoric. To them, she’s someone who gets the idea that we all benefit if Wall Street and American business thrive. What about her forays into fiery rhetoric? They dismiss it quickly as political maneuvers. None of them think she really means her populism.
In the first Democratic debate, which took place on Tuesday, Clinton repeatedly presented herself as a staunch progressive, but one who is willing to make compromises. This was meant to draw a clear contrast with her closest competitor, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who progressives have flocked to for his Democratic-Socialist policies and tough rhetoric aimed at Wall Street.
According to her campaign website, Clinton intends to preserve and even strengthen parts of the Dodd-Frank financial protections act, prosecute Wall Street executives who jeopardize the financial system, require companies that are “too big to fail” to reorganize, downsize, or split up, and improve oversight of the “shadow banking” system (which includes investment banks, mortgage companies, and hedge funds). But some on Wall Street are not worried.