Elections

Hillary’s Debate Fact-Check Request Backfires

When Hillary Clinton urged viewers of Saturday’s Democratic presidential debate to vet her claim about donations she’s received from Wall Street, she may not have expected people to take her literally.

That’s because a check of OpenSecrets.org — which Clinton said supports her contention — shows that the Democratic front-runner has received more campaign contributions from the securities and investment industry than she has from the education industry.

“I think it’s important to point out that about three percent of my donations come from people in the finance and investment world,” Clinton said.

“You can go to OpenSecrets.org and check that,” Clinton continued, adding that “more donations from students and teachers than I do from people associated with Wall Street.”

But the website, which is maintained by the Center for Responsive Politics, does not break down campaign contributions by job occupation, as Clinton suggested. Thus there’s no way to compare how much money she’s received from students and teachers or from people associated with Wall Street banks.

That leaves fact-checkers having to compare donations by industry. And such a review reveals that the biggest donors to Clinton’s 2016 campaign committee, Hillary for America, come from the legal, business services, and securities and investment industries. The education industry is the fifth largest source of contributions to the Democratic front-runner’s effort.

During her 2008 presidential campaign, Clinton likewise received more contributions from the securities and investment industry than she did from the education industry.

And across her entire career in the U.S. Senate, which stretched from January 2001 to January 2009, four of the five companies that contributed the most to Clinton’s campaigns were the Wall Street banks Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan Chase, and Morgan Stanley.

Clinton often uses tricky language to downplay her ties to millionaire donors. She routinely claims that most of her contributions come from small-dollar contributors. While that’s true in terms of the number of donations given, Clinton elides the argument being made by her opponents, such as Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.

The majority of the money that flows into Clinton’s campaign comes from wealthy donors giving the maximum amount allowed under federal law.

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