This year’s presidential campaign has confirmed at least one fact of modern American politics: Democrats have lost their claim on populist politics: Donald Trump has energized millions of working people fed up with political and economic elites pushing bad trade agreements for Wall Street’s benefit. Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton has been forced, awkwardly, to convince voters she will put the interests of everyday Americans ahead of the big global banks who have supplied the Clinton machine tens of millions of dollars over the years.
During the Democratic primary contest, Bernie Sanders’s most effective attack on Hillary Clinton highlighted her close association with Wall Street banks. Sanders effectively made the connection between these banks and their support of bad trade deals for American workers. In the general election contest between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, the opportunity for contrast is still there.
Unlike community banks, which serve local communities, know their economies and are committed to their neighbors, the “too-big-to-fail” (TBTF) banks don’t know their customers, serve themselves and could care less about their neighbors. When the great financial crisis came, TBTF banks were largely responsible. The American people rightly wanted justice. But it was time for payback, and the TBTF banks used their capture of the Democrat party for years of financial support to extort protection. Nobody went to jail, and Hillary and her pals have since then helped to make sure that no real harm comes the TBTF banks. Amazingly, since the crisis, the TBTF banks have only grown bigger.
Six years since President Obama signed the Dodd Frank Act, the banks his Administration regarded as too big are now 30% bigger than they were in 2010, and 80% bigger than before the banking crisis of 2008. The six largest U.S. financial institutions now have assets of some $10 trillion, amounting to almost 60% of our GDP and controlling almost 50% of total deposits. In contrast, community banks have been hit very hard. There are 1,524 fewer banks with assets under $1 billion than before the financial crisis. Small, community-focused lenders are being squeezed by the TBTF banks with whom Hillary Clinton has been so closely associated.
Bill and Hillary Clinton have accepted $68.7 million in campaign contributions from New York banks through six political races, and $8.8 million more in speaking fees. During a debate last fall, Senator Bernie Sanders rhetorically asked, “Why do they make millions of dollars of campaign contributions? They expect to get something. Everybody knows that.” Sure enough, Wall Street tripled its campaign contributions to President Bill Clinton’s campaigns from 1992 to 1996, from $11.1 million to $28.3 million. In return, the banks got repeal of Glass-Steagall, and passage of the Commodity Futures Modernization Act, which ended the regulation of derivatives and freed up Wall Street to create the complex mortgage-backed securities which ultimately brought down the financial system.
The Clinton-big bank axis has strengthened in the years since. Big banks eagerly supported Hillary Clinton’s ambitions, contributing $2.13 million to her campaign for New York Senate. As Senator, Hillary was there for the big banks. She voted to tighten bankruptcy laws, even after being previously publicly opposed to this policy. And when Hillary went from being Senator Clinton to Secretary of State Clinton, she personally got involved to help UBS, one of the world’s largest banks, navigate an IRS investigation into the bank’s role in helping rich Americans avoid taxes. As the Wall Street Journal reported, soon after Hillary intervened on the bank’s behalf, UBS paid Bill Clinton $1.5 million in speaking fees.
The Clinton Foundation’s donor list is also synonymous with TBTF banks: Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, HSBC, Bank of America Corporation, JPMorgan Chase, and Deutche Bank, to name a few. For their support, these banks garnered new business from economic development and green energy projects boosted by the Clinton Foundation and its third world despot partners.
But new business isn’t all the big banks got for their support. While Hillary served as Secretary of State, she and the Clinton Foundation perfected what amounted to a protection racket for the big banks. For example, in August of 2010, the Justice Department announced that Barclay’s would pay nearly $300 million in fines for violating US sanctions against Iran, Cuba, Sudan and other rogue states. One month later, it was announced that Barclays was – for the first time ever – a “strategic partner” for that year’s annual Clinton Global Initiative Summit.
In 2012, the Clinton Global Initiative Summit featured three more major banks that were facing penalties and investigations for violating Iran sanctions:
Standard Chartered Bank was charged by federal and New York State prosecutors of laundering over $250 billion for Iran and “deliberately” helping Iran circumvent sanctions imposed to cripple its nuclear program. According to the New York State Department of Financial Services the ten years of illegal activity by Standard Chartered “left the US financial system vulnerable to terrorists, weapons dealers, drug kingpins, and corrupt regimes and deprived law enforcement investigators of crucial information used to track all manner of criminal activity.” In August of 2012, Standard Chartered paid a huge fine for its actions and admitted to its criminal activity. The next month, Standard Chartered appeared as a “meeting sponsor” of the Clinton Global Initiative’s annual summit.
A late August New York Times report revealed that Deutsche Bank was also under investigation for violating Iran sanctions. Days later, Reuters reported Credit Agricole was conducting an internal review of payments involving countries that may have been subject to U.S. sanctions, at the urging of the Manhattan District Attorney and other U.S. authorities. In September of that year, Deutsche Bank was a “sponsor” and Credit Agricole was a “partner” at the Clinton Global Initiative Summit.
In December of 2012, the Departments of Justice and the Treasury announced that HSBC would pay $1.92 billion to settle allegations that the bank allowed drug cartels to launder billions of dollars, and that the banks violated U.S. sanctions against Iran. Not long after, HSBC soon became a big donor to the Clinton Foundation.
Hillary Clinton claims she’s looking out for the American people, but her track record suggests that she’s really looking out for Wall Street.
Roger Stone is a well-known Republican Political consultant and is a veteran of eight national Republican Presidential campaigns. His also the men’s fashion correspondent for the Daily Caller and editor of Stonezone.com.