An Updated List of Goldman Sachs Ties to the Obama Government Including Elena Kagan

With Bush, it was mostly big oil. With Obama, it appears to be mostly Goldman Sachs. The faces change, but the corruption doesn’t. Anyway, this article and the previous article by the author (which he links to in this article) are eye-opening and well worth reading.

From FireDogLake:

I. Introduction.

This essay shows the pervasive influence of Goldman Sachs and its units (like the Goldman-Robert Rubin-funded Hamilton Project embedded in the Brookings Institution) in the Obama government. These names are in addition to those compiled on an older such list and published here at FDL. In the future, I will combine the names here and those on the earlier article but I urge readers to look at the earlier list too (links below). Combined, this is the largest and most comprehensive list of such ties yet published.

For readability and clarity, I have NOT included many of the details and links that are found in the earlier article so as to make this one less repetitive and easier to read. So, if you want more documentation, please look at my earlier diary here at Firedoglake called “A List of Goldman Sachs People in the Obama Government: Names Attached To The Giant Squid’s Tentacles” published on April 27, 2010.

Note too that I have intentionally used the words, “Obama government” rather than “Obama administration” because some of these connections are not technically within his administration. These would include ambassadorial appointments and Supreme Court appointments (like that anticipated for Elena Kagan). This also includes lobbyists like Dick Gephardt who has multiple connections/input to Obama and to Goldman Sachs and the Hamilton Project.

In a similar vein, I use a broader definition than just Goldman Sachs (GS) because GS has funded, along with its ex-leader Robert Rubin, a right-leaning think tank called the Hamilton Project and embedded it within the Brookings Institution. Some of its activities thus also spill over into Brookings Institution projects which doubtlessly was one of the clever reasons Rubin and GS did this, along with providing their essentially neo-con/neo-liberal think tank with camouflage. This has worked beautifully for GS and Rubin as most writers–even critical ones like Matt Taibbi–seem unaware of the important doings of the Hamilton Project. The Hamilton Project has 32 people sitting on its Advisory Council and many have ties to Goldman Sachs, Rubin and the Obama government. Of the first four Directors of the Hamilton Project, three work in the Obama administration. Meanwhile, the most recent Director of the Hamilton Project came from academia and from a position as economic adviser to the Obama administration to Hamilton in the sort of “revolving door” that Washington is famous for.

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Is Goldman Obama’s Enron? No, it’s worse

From WashingtonExaminer.com:

Campaign contributions from Goldman Sachs employees to President Obama are nearly seven times as much as President Bush received from Enron workers, according to numbers on OpenSecrets.org.

President Bush’s connections to Enron were well-hyped during the company’s accounting debacle that rippled through the economy. Time magazine even had an article called, “Bush’s Enron Problem.” The Associated Press ran with the headline, “Bush-backing Enron makes big money off crisis.” David Callaway wrote that Enron for Bush was worse than Whitewater for Clinton.

In 2002, the New York Times wrote: “President Bush is seeking to play down his relationship with Enron’s embattled chairman, Kenneth L. Lay. But their ties are broad and deep and go back many years, and the relationship has been beneficial to both.” (h/t Lachlan Markey)

But the mere $151,722.42 (inflation adjusted) in contributions from Enron-affiliated executives, employees, and PACs to Bush hardly add up to Obama’s $1,007,370.85 (inflation adjusted) from Goldman-affiliated executives and employees. That’s also not taking into account how much Goldman contributed to Obama cabinet member Hillary Clinton ($415,595.63 inflation adjusted), which was itself almost three times as much as Bush received as well.

It would be fair to say that the total amount the Obama administration has received from those affiliated with Goldman Sachs is ten times that of what Bush received from Enron.

Goldman is being sued for civil fraud by the Securities and Exchange Commission for deliberately putting unwitting clients on the wrong side of a mortgage security trade that had been designed to fail.

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Goldman’s White House connections raise eyebrows

From McClatchydc.com:

While Goldman Sachs’ lawyers negotiated with the Securities and Exchange Commission over potentially explosive civil fraud charges, Goldman’s chief executive visited the White House at least four times.

White House logs show that Chief Executive Lloyd Blankfein traveled to Washington for at least two events with President Barack Obama, whose 2008 presidential campaign received $994,795 in donations from Goldman’s employees and their relatives. He also met twice with Obama’s top economic adviser, Larry Summers.

No evidence has surfaced to suggest that Blankfein or any other Goldman executive raised the SEC case with the president or his aides. SEC Chairwoman Mary Schapiro said in a statement Wednesday that the SEC doesn’t coordinate enforcement actions with the White House or other political bodies.

Meanwhile, however, Goldman is retaining former Obama White House counsel Gregory Craig as a member of its legal team. In addition, when he worked as an investment banker in Chicago a decade ago, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel advised one client who also retained Goldman as an adviser on the same $8.2 billion deal.

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Taxpayers to help with the rent at Goldman’s new office tower

We bailed them out, the least we can do is help with the rent till they can get on their own two feet again.

From Raw Story:

As if billions in cash and government guarantees wasn’t enough, it turns out investment bank Goldman Sachs will also be sucking on the taxpayers’ teat when employees move into their slick new digs at the corner of West and Vesey in Manhattan next year.

The New Goldman Sachs World Headquarters — a 43-story office tower next to the World Trade Center site — is being built with the help of millions of dollars from taxpayers, Bloomberg news service reports.

The company that has been the focus of populist anger since the TARP bailout last year took advantage of programs the government set up to revitalize lower Manhattan after the 9/11 attacks. Setting up shop next to the WTC qualified Goldman Sachs for $49 in “job-grant funds, tax exemptions and energy discounts,” Bloomberg’s Christine Harper reported.

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Did Paulson’s secret meeting with Goldman Sachs break the law?

The bigger question is “If it broke the law, what will be done about it?”

From Raw Story:

When Henry Paulon left his position as CEO of investment bank Goldman Sachs in 2006 to become George W. Bush’s Secretary of the Treasury, he signed an ethics letter promising to avoid conflicts of interest by not getting involved in any dealings with his former firm.

Paulson received a secret waver of that promise at the height of the financial crisis last year — but a new book by New York Times columnist Andrew Ross Sorkin reveals that Paulson had already met secretly with the Goldman Sachs board of directors in June 2008, after the collapse of Bear Stearns but three months before the waiver. The meeting took place in Moscow, where Paulson had gone in an unsuccessful attempt to seek Russian investment in the US economy.

According to Sorkin, “When Paulson learned that Goldman’s board would be in Moscow at the same time as him, he had [Treasury chief of staff] Jim Wilkinson organize a meeting with them. Nothing formal, purely social — for old times’ sake. … Anxious about the prospect of such a meeting, Wilkinson called to get approval from Treasury’s general counsel. Bob Hoyt, who wasn’t enamored of the ‘optics’ of such a meeting, said that as long as it remained a ‘social event,’ it wouldn’t run afoul of the ethics guidelines.”

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Another Goldman executive named to key government post as its profits skyrocket

This used to be called “putting the fox in charge of the chicken coop,” a sure sign of corruption. Now it’s just the way corporate government is run.

From Salon:

Apparently, the U.S. government didn’t have enough Goldman Sachs executives in key financial and regulatory positions, so the following happened this week:

A Goldman Sachs executive has been named the first chief operating officer of the Securities and Exchange Commission’s enforcement division.

The market watchdog says Adam Storch, vice president in Goldman Sachs’ Business Intelligence Group, is assuming the new position of managing executive of the SEC division.

The move comes as the SEC revamps its enforcement efforts following the agency’s failure to uncover Bernard Madoff’s massive fraud scheme for nearly two decades despite numerous red flags.

A Goldman executive as COO of the SEC’s enforcement division.  This is all consistent with the observation of Desmond Lachman — previously chief emerging market strategist at Salomon Smith Barney and IMF deputy director — regarding “Goldman Sachs’s seeming lock on high-level U.S. Treasury jobs,” which he cited as but one of the many “parallels between U.S. policymaking and what we see in emerging markets.”

In October of last year, a Goldman Sachs Vice President, Neel Kashkari, was named by former Goldman CEO and then-Treasury Secretary Hank Pauslon to oversee the$700 billion TARP bailout.  In January of this year, Tim Geithner hired a former Goldman Sachs lobbyist, Mark Patterson, to be his top aide and Chief of Staff.  In March, President Obama nominated Goldman Sachs executive Gary Gensler to head the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, which regulates futures markets, even though (or “because”) Gensler confessed to lax regulation during the Clinton administration over the very derivative instruments that caused the financial crisis.  In April, Goldman hired as its top lobbyist Michael Paese, the top aide to Rep. Barney Frank on the House Financial Services Committee which Frank chairs.

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Goldman Sachs 2009 bonuses to double 2008’s; $23 billion could send 460,000 to Harvard, buy insurance for 1.7 million families

This problem brought to you by Big Government. GS was one of those “too big to fail” companies that needed bail-out money. Now we see why. Billion dollar bonuses are easier to hand out when they’re financed by taxpayer dollars.

From Raw Story:

Yesterday, we brought you the insurance company that wouldn’t insure a 17-pound infant because he was too heavy. Today, we bring you the investment bank that manages to double its bonuses during the worst recession since the Great Depression.

On Thursday, Goldman Sachs will announce the firm’s bonus payments for 2009. Analysts expect the bonus pool to mushroom to $23 billion — double the bonus pool paid to employees in 2008. Earlier this year, Goldman Sachs said that it had put aside $11.4 billion for bonuses during the first half of the year.

“The absolute size of compensation payouts will rise significantly,” Keith Horowitz, an analyst at Citigroup, wrote in a note to clients two weeks ago, highlighted by Andrew Sorkin in The New York Times’ dealbook column Tuesday.

How much is $23,000,000,000?

For one thing, it’s enough to send 460,000 full paying students to Harvard University for one year, or 115,000 for four years.

It’s enough to pay the health insurance premium for the average American family ($13,375) 1.7 million times.

It’s enough to upgrade 191 million computers to Windows 7 operating system (priced at $119.99), or to buy 115 million iPhones at $199.99 (provided the recipient was willing to sign a two-year contract).

Or, apparently, it’s enough to reward the employees of Goldman Sachs for a bonanza trading year, at a firm where average employee compensation was recently $622,000 — and likely to be greater this year.

The $23 billion figure could leave some American taxpayers woozy — the US government bailed out Goldman Sachs with a multi-billion payment last year, which the firm has since repaid.

But while Goldman is likely to pay its biggest bonuses ever to employees, the firm pays very little in taxes worldwide. In 2008, the company was said to have paid just $14 million in taxes worldwide, and paid $6 billion in 2007.

The firm’s corporate tax rate? About 1 percent. According a prominent tax lawyer, “They have taken steps to ensure that a lot of their income is earned in lower-tax jurisdictions.”

Sorkin says Goldman’s CEO is trying to hold off criticism by making a big charitable donation.

“Now there’s talk inside Goldman that it is considering making a huge charitable donation — perhaps more than $1 billion — as a way to help deflect the criticism,” Sorkin says. “Such a donation would be a welcome gesture that would no doubt benefit many needy organizations. But it would most likely be seen for what it is: a one-time move to draw attention away from where most of the money is really going. A large charitable donation also raises questions about the company’s fiduciary duty to its shareholders; it could be seen as giving away profits that ostensibly belong to them.”