Hedging on Wall Street: Clinton's Finance Reforms Reek of Weak-Kneed Populism

As Bernie Sanders continues to draw record crowds and appears to be winning the battle for small-donor contributions, the campaign of Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton—even as the former senator and secretary of state attempts to strike a more populist tone—continues to show it knows where the deep pockets are: Wall Street.

And as the Associated Press reports on Wednesday morning, the campaign’s strategic approach is rather easily documented:

Despite her newly announced proposals, which also include calling for higher tax rates on private equity and hedge fund managers, CNBC reported on Tuesday that all of Clinton’s “rhetoric has mattered little” to those who support her in the financial industry.

Citing campaign figures made available last week, CNBC notes that “already among the biggest donors to Clinton’s political career, employees of some megabanks have funneled big money into her bid for the 2016 nomination.” Accordingly, employees from some of Wall Street’s most powerful financial firms—Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, Morgan Stanley and Bank of America Merrill Lynch—”gave about $290,000 to Clinton’s campaign committee through June 30, according to a MapLight analysis of Federal Election Commission data. While it makes up less than 1 percent of the roughly $47 million raised by Clinton’s committee this cycle, it follows a precedent set in her 2008 presidential campaign, when the firms’ employees were among her biggest donors.”

As current head of the Democratic Party, President Obama—despite overseeing a Justice Department that failed to prosecute a single high-level Wall Street executive for the criminal behavior that led to the collapse of the global economy in 2007—is often derided as being too anti-Wall Street by some simply for “talking tough” about Wall Street. However, Lisa Gilbert, director of the Congress Watch division at Public Citizen, told CNBC that Clinton is a Democrat who still attracts Wall Street money, because she maintains an “institutional connection” to the financial industry given her former role as a New York senator.


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