Despite his rhetorical attacks on Wall Street, a study by the Sunlight Foundation’s Influence Project shows that President Barack Obama has received more money from Wall Street than any other politician over the past 20 years, including former President George W. Bush.
In 2008, Wall Street’s largesse accounted for 20 percent of Obama’s total take, according to Reuters.
When asked by The Daily Caller to comment about President Obama’s credibility when it comes to criticizing Wall Street, the White House declined to reply.
Former White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer says the distance between the president’s rhetoric and actions makes him look hypocritical.
“It’s almost as if President Obama won’t cross across a Wall Street picket line except to get inside with [his] hand out, so he can raise money,” Fleischer told TheDC, referring to the Occupy Wall Street demonstrators who the president has been encouraging over the past week. “That sort of support causes him to look hypocritical.”
Fleischer continued by saying that President Obama and Democrats, such as New York Sen. Charles Schumer, who has received approximately $8.7 million from Wall Street since 1989, should stop taking campaign donations from Wall Street banks if they are so offended by their actions.
“They can’t say we hate Wall Street, but we love their money,” Fleischer said. (RELATED: White House: Millionaire tax isn’t enough)
Being Wall Street’s campaign cash king is hardly the image President Obama has been trying to project in public, where he has been setting himself up as the champion of the progressive Occupy Wall Street movement and as the avenger of jilted Bank of America customers.
“Banks can make money,” Obama said last week, responding to questions during an interview with ABC News about Bank of America’s decision to levy a $5 monthly fee on debit card users. “They can succeed, the old-fashioned way, by earning it.”
In fact, the Sunlight Foundation, a nonpartisan watchdog group that tracks lobbyist spending and influence in both parties, found that President Obama has received more money from Bank of America than any other candidate dating back to 1991.
An examination of the numbers shows that Obama took in $421,242 in campaign contributions in 2008 from Bank of America’s executives, PACs and employees, which exceeded its prior record contribution of $329,761 to President George W. Bush in 2004.
According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Wall Street firms also contributed more to Obama’s 2008 campaign than they gave to Republican nominee John McCain.
“The securities and investment industry is Obama’s second largest source of bundlers, after lawyers, at least 56 individuals have raised at least $8.9 million for his campaign,” Massie Ritsch wrote in a Sept. 18, 2008 entry on the Center for Responsive Politics’s OpenSecrets blog.
By the end of Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign, executives and others connected with Wall Street firms, such as Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, Citigroup, UBS AG, JPMorgan Chase, and Morgan Stanley, poured nearly $15.8 million into his coffers.
Goldman Sachs contributed slightly over $1 million to Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign, compared with a little over $394,600 to the 2004 Bush campaign. Citigroup gave $736,771 to Obama in 2008, compared with $320,820 to Bush in 2004. Executives and others connected with the Swiss bank UBS AG donated $539,424 to Obama’s 2008 campaign, compared with $416,950 to Bush in 2004. And JP Morgan Chase gave Obama’s campaign $808,799 in 2008, but did not show up among Bush’s top donors in 2004, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
Obama’s close relationship with JP Morgan Chase was highlighted earlier this year when he tapped Bill Daley, a former top executive with the bank, to replace Rahm Emanuel as his chief of staff.
Wall Street’s generosity to Obama didn’t end with his 2008 campaign either. Wall Street donors contributed $4.8 million to underwrite Obama’s inauguration, according to a Jan. 15, 2009 Reuters report.
So far Wall Street has raised $7.2 million in the current electoral cycle for President Obama, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Obama’s 2012 Wall Street bundlers include people like Jon Corzine, former Goldman Sachs CEO and former New Jersey governor; Azita Raji, a former investment banker for JP Morgan; and Charles Myers, an executive with the investment bank Evercore Partners.
“When he calls Wall Street bankers fat cats, then his base cheers, so you’ll see him constantly trying to shift back and forth, and keep Wall Street happy at one point and his base happy at another point,” Jim Moorehead, current crisis adviser at Steptoe & Johnson, LLP and a former Goldman Sachs investment banker, explained in a July interview with FoxNews.com.
The Republican National Committee echoed Fleischer’s comments in a statement to TheDC, similarly accusing the president of Wall Street hypocrisy.
“The president wants his cake and eat it too,” RNC spokeswoman Kirsten Kukowski wrote in an emailed statement. “It’s the height of hypocrisy for President Obama to demonize Wall Street on the stump while looking the other way as they line his campaign coffers.”
Politcal analyst Dr. Larry Sabato of the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics sums up Wall Street’s 2008 infatuation with Obama as having been more about wanting to back a winner than anything else.
“Two things have changed that. First, the economy is still rotten. Obama’s policies just haven’t worked — or at least not so anybody can tell,” Sabato said. “Second, Obama has to direct the public’s anger and frustration somewhere if he’s to have a decent chance of reelection.”
“There is a great deal of animosity still present in the general public about Wall Street and the banks,” he continued. “The more Obama scapegoats them, the less inclined they are to back him this time. You don’t get the votes and money of people you insult.”