Hillary Slams High-Frequency Trading In Public, Accepts Industry Support At Private Fundraiser

Chuck Ross Investigative Reporter
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Hillary Clinton has opposed high-frequency trading in public recently, but she apparently still supports it in private.

The Democratic presidential nominee will attend a fundraiser Tuesday night at the home of Rajiv “Raj” Fernando, the founder of Chopper Trading, a high-frequency Chicago-based trading firm which was recently sold to DRW Trading.

As a high-tech trader, Fernando used algorithms and tech-based systems to conduct large numbers of financial transactions. The business can be highly lucrative, so much so that Clinton has targeted it and other segments of the financial sector in her recent campaign stump speeches.

During an economic policy speech last week, Clinton called out “institutions in the so-called ‘shadow banking’ system — including hedge funds, high frequency traders, non-bank finance companies” which she said “receive little oversight at all.”

She also said that “over the course of this campaign, I will offer plans to rein in excessive risks on Wall Street and ensure that stock markets work for everyday investors, not just high-frequency traders and those with the best — or fastest — connections.”

Besides calling for more direct regulation of the financial industry, Clinton has also called for higher taxes on short-term capital gains. That despite her comments during the 2008 presidential campaign that she opposed such a hike.

The event at Fernando’s Chicago home which will cost donors $2,700 to attend. Donors who raise $27,000 will be given the title of event “co-hosts.” Those who raise $50,000 will be deemed “event hosts,” Crain’s Chicago Business reported.

This isn’t the first time Fernando has helped Clinton. He’s donated between $500,000 and $1 million to the Clinton Foundation, according to the charity’s website.

As National Journal notes, Fernando gave $5,000 last year to Ready for Hillary, a pro-Clinton super PAC. He also donated $4,600 to Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign. He also donated $30,000 to WomenCount, a political group that helped Clinton pay off her campaign debt from that failed bid. Fernando later raised money for President Obama as a bundler.

Fernando’s fundraising work seems to have paid off when, in 2011, he was appointed to the State Department’s International Security Advisory Board. According to the State Department’s website, the ISAB provides the agency with “independent insight and advice on all aspects of arms control, disarmament, international security, and related aspects of public diplomacy.”

According to an ABC News article from 2012, Fernando’s appointment raised questions given his lack of diplomatic and international security experience. He resigned from the board days after ABC News asked him for comment on his position.

In April, the conservative watchdog group Citizens United sued the State Department for documents related to Fernando and another big Clinton donor, Lebanese-Nigerian businessman Gilbert Chagoury.

According to the Washington Examiner, the Republican National Committee is also seeking information about Fernando’s appointment to the board. Scott Parker, the RNC’s director of investigations, filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the Office of Government Ethics for any records related to any conflict of interest concerns raised before Fernando’s appointment.

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