Wall Street Starts to Lean Democratic

After years of supporting Republicans, Wall Street is donating to Democrats.


July 23, 2007 &#151; -- Wall Street — often thought of as a bastion of Republican ideals — is leaning toward Democrats these days.

As campaign contributions pour in to the 2008 presidential race, employees at some of the nation's largest banks and investment firms are deciding more often than not to write out big checks to Democratic candidates.

Workers at Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, Lehman Brothers and elsewhere are putting their cash behind Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John Edwards over the Republican front-runners, according to an analysis of Federal Election Commission filings by ABC News.

At Goldman Sachs, the largest of the firms, employees donated $542,000 to the top three Democrats and the top three Republicans from Jan. 1 through June 30.

More than 63 percent of those dollars went to Democrats, with Obama getting the bulk of that cash — $184,750, according to the ABC analysis.

Click here to see the data

Don't be mistaken — there are still plenty of Republican supporters on Wall Street. But, for the first time in more than a decade, Democratic donors outnumber those supporting Republicans.

And while Wall Street workers are small in number compared to some other industries, they tend to earn substantially more and are more likely to donate to politicians.

The Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan, nonprofit group that tracks money in politics, found that, among corporate contributors in all industries, no company has put more money into the 2008 presidential race than Goldman Sachs.

"We are seeing a lot of industries that have been giving to the Republicans in the [last] 12 years — changing their stripes — because that's how you get business done. You have to support the party in power," said Massie Ritsch, a spokesman for the Center for Responsive Politics. "It's what happened in 1994 when the Republicans took control, and it's going to happen again."

For evidence of this shift, look no further than Morgan Stanley chief executive John Mack, a major backer of President Bush, who helped raise more than $200,000 for the president's last campaign.

Mack now backs Clinton.

Last week, Mack hosted a $1,000-minimum fundraiser at Morgan Stanley's Times Square headquarters for Clinton, but he encouraged each member of his staff to give $4,600, the maximum allowable contribution for the presidential primary and general election cycle.

About 54 percent of Morgan Stanley employee donations went to Democrats before the fundraiser. Last week's event — which will appear on the next quarterly disclosure report, due Oct. 15 — is likely to shift Morgan Stanley further toward the Democrats.

Executives and employees at Citigroup, Lehman Brothers, Morgan Stanley and UBS also donated more to Democrats than Republicans.

There are still several firms that favor Republican candidates Mitt Romney, Rudy Giuliani and John McCain. They include Merrill Lynch, Bear Stearns, Credit Suisse and Deutsche Bank.

But, overall, the dollars are clearly moving to the Democrats.

"They are not all going to flip. But those that have been very strongly Republican, will become less so," Ritsch said.

ABC News looked at the Top 3 fundraisers in each party, and 10 of the top donating banks and investment firms. The analysis does not include donations from the wives and husbands — or other family members — of employees, which often boost a firm's influence.

Those 10 firms provided $3 million in donations, with 54 percent going to Democrats. Five companies were clearly Democratic, four were Republican and one, Bank of America, gave almost equally to both parties.

Hassan Nemazee, the national finance chair for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and the New York finance chair for John Kerry in 2004, knows a thing or two about raising cash from Wall Street.

"Certainly, the investment banks and the commercial banks historically have been predominantly Republican givers. It just went with the nature of the territory," said Nemazee, who is also a fundraiser for Clinton's campaign.

But Bush's actions after Sept. 11, and the war in Iraq, Nemazee said, have driven away many of these Wall Street workers, whom he calls moderate Republicans.

"They're not happy campers in the Republican Party today," he said. "You've seen a move away by people I would characterize not necessarily as Democrats, but as more Democratic-leaning and more willing to give to a Democrat … as a consequence of the policies the administration's been perusing for the last seven years."

So, why do some firms lean further toward one party or the other?

According to Nemazee, in some of the Republican-leaning firms, it might very well be that employees donate because that's what their bosses encourage.

"I think you still have people," he said, "who are at the very top of the food chain who are still committed to the administration and the party."

UBS: 72.7 percent to Democrats

Citigroup: 66.6 percent to Democrats

Goldman Sachs: 63.4 percent to Democrats

Lehman Brothers: 63 percent to Democrats

Morgan Stanley: 54 percent to Democrats

Bear Sterns: 87.6 percent to Republicans

Merrill Lynch: 66.7 percent to Republicans

Deutsche Bank: 62.2 percent to Republicans

Credit Suisse: 57.5 percent to Republicans

The 10th company — Bank of America — was statistically bipartisan, with 50.2 percent of employees donating to the leading Democrats.

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