Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders slammed Hillary Clinton during Sunday’s Democratic presidential debate over speaking fees she’s received from Goldman Sachs and other Wall Street banks.
“I don’t take money from big banks. I don’t get personal speaking fees from Goldman Sachs,” Sanders said when asked about his position on financial reform.
Clinton and her husband have been paid millions of dollars in speaking fees from the financial industry, as Sanders noted.
“Secretary Clinton, you’ve received over $600,000 in speaking fees from Goldman Sachs in one year,” Sanders said.
Clinton was paid $2.9 million from 2013 to 2015. Goldman Sachs accounted for the largest payout, paying Clinton $675,000 for several speeches.
Sanders, a democratic socialist who has proposed breaking up big banks, implied that Clinton would be unwilling to go after banking executives who he blames for pushing the U.S. into recession in 2008.
“I have doubts when people receive huge amounts of money from Wall Street,” Sanders said.
During her Senate career, Clinton was a favorite of Wall Street donors. Four of the top five donors to her Senate campaigns were Wall Street firms, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
Citigroup gave her $824,000 while Goldman Sachs donated $760,000. JP Morgan and Morgan Stanley also contributed heavily to Clinton.
“I find it very strange that a major financial institution that pays $5 billion in fines for breaking the law, not one of their executives is prosecuted while kids who smoke marijuana get a jail sentence,” Sanders said.
“Can you really reform Wall Street when they are spending millions and millions of dollars on campaign contributions and when they are providing speaker fees to individuals?” he asked.
Sanders has gone after Clinton before on the debate stage over her financial ties to Wall Street, though Sunday’s remarks were much more direct and accusatory.
“Why do they make millions of dollars of campaign contributions? They expect to get something. Everybody knows that,” Sanders said of the financial services industry during a debate in November.
Clinton did not take kindly to those remarks, accusing Sanders of using his answer “to impugn my integrity.” She also defended Wall Street contributions to her campaigns by invoking the 9/11 attacks.
“Where were we attacked? We were attacked in downtown Manhattan where Wall Street is,” Clinton said then. “I did spend a whole lot of time and effort helping them rebuild. That was good for New York. It was good for the economy, and it was a way to rebuke the terrorists who had attacked our country.”