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Friday, November 21, 2008

Goldman Sachs Will Be Sitting Pretty With Emanuel in the Obama White House

My November 21, 2008 Washington Examiner column:

An interesting early chapter in the Goldman-Emanuel relationship took place in the setting of Bill Clinton’s campaign for the White House in 1992. Clinton hired Emanuel as his chief fundraiser.

At the same time, however, Emanuel was on the payroll of Goldman Sachs, receiving $3,000 per month from the firm to “introduce us to people,” in the words of one Goldman partner at the time. This is certainly a noteworthy relationship, but it’s one that has almost entirely escaped scrutiny.

Corporations and partnerships are and were at the time prohibited by law from contributing to federal candidates out of the corporate coffers. So, while Rahm tapped Goldman employees personally for six figures in gifts to Clinton’s candidacy—more than any other firm—Goldman, as a company, was helping keep Clinton’s top fundraiser well-fed.

When you look at the explanations Goldman and Emanuel gave for Emanuel’s employment—he was advising on “local political races” or “introduc[ing] us to people”—it’s easy to suspect that Goldman was using firm money to fund the Clinton campaign by paying the campaign’s top fundraiser for nebulous “consulting” work—all while the campaign was in debt and delaying paychecks to campaign staff.