President Obama’s pick to oversee big Wall Street banks and financial firms is coming under fire from liberals — and records reveal that she has close ties to the very Wall Street superpowers that she will be overseeing.
This latest liberal criticism of the Obama administration further underscores the president’s cozy relationship with Wall Street, which filled his 2008 campaign coffers and recently re-entered Obama’s inner circle during the debt ceiling crisis.
Sharon Bowen, a partner in the New York City office of the law firm Latham & Watkins, was nominated by Obama on December 19 to become a commissioner on the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), which gained new powers under Obama’s 2010 Dodd-Frank Act to oversee swaps traded by big financial entities including Goldman Sachs. Bowen currently awaits confirmation by the Senate.
But Bowen’s credentials, like those of Obama’s pick to head CFTC, have come under fire from some on the political left, including the liberal coalition Americans for Financial Reform (AFR), which doubts her ability to be a reformer in a role overseeing Goldman Sachs and similar Wall Street giants.
Bowen’s firm Latham & Watkins has represented Goldman Sachs and Merrill Lynch, a division of Bank of America.
Latham recently had 107 different lawyers on its Goldman Sachs Client Team, according to an undated firm document. The firm’s New York City office alone has had 41 lawyers on the Goldman Sachs Client Team at once, including Bowen’s Facebook friends David Brodsky, Marcus Dougherty, and Dennis Lamont.
“We are very concerned that Ms. Bowen, much like Tim Massad who has been nominated to be Chairman, lacks both significant experience in the derivatives and commodity markets that the CFTC oversees, and any public record as a champion of reform in these markets. We expect that Senators will have many tough questions to ask as they consider the set of CFTC nominations before them in the New Year,” AFR said in a statement regarding Bowen’s nomination.
Bowen’s relationship with Goldman Sachs and its executives extends into her social life, as well.
Bowen was a featured guest alongside executives from Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley and others at the Third Annual Women’s Leadership Forum on June 28, 2011. The event was hosted by Goldman Sachs and held inside the Goldman Sachs Tower, the financial giant’s global headquarters, on 200 West Street in New York City.
Bowen served as a gala co-chair for the 6th Annual Council of Urban Professionals Leadership Gala, where Goldman Sachs senior partner Valentino Carlotti served as the sole honorary gala chair. Bank of America-Merrill Lynch executive Jose Tavarez also served as a co-chair alongside Bowen at the gala, which was held on April 2, 2013 at Espace on West 42nd Street in New York City. The gala benefit committee featured representatives from Goldman Sachs and Wells Fargo and multiple representatives from Morgan Stanley.
Bowen was a top-class Founders Circle donor to the National Urban Technology Center for the period January 2010-September 2012, finding her name in the Circle alongside Goldman Sachs and also Goldman Sachs’ Carlotti.
CFTC’s previous leadership went out on divisive terms with the firms that it oversees. Representatives for Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase and other financial firms teamed up to file a lawsuit against CFTC in December to challenge onerous regulations put in place by outgoing CFTC chairman Gary Gensler, who left his post January 3.
Gensler, who spent years at Goldman Sachs before making enemies with his old employer at CFTC, will be replaced by senior Treasury Department official and former Wall Street lawyer Tim Massad, pending Massad’s confirmation. Massad also gained criticism from the liberal group AFR.
The White House appears to be enjoying new harmony in its relationship with Wall Street titans including Goldman Sachs, employees of which donated more than $1 million to Obama’s 2008 campaign before primarily abandoning him in favor of Mitt Romney in 2012.
On October 2, during the government shutdown, Obama met with Goldman Sachs CEO and chairman Lloyd Blankfein and top executives from Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, and Bank of America to discuss the debt ceiling.
“I am thrilled about the nomination but cannot comment for your story. Please refer any questions to the White House,” Bowen told The Daily Caller. The White House did not return a request for comment.