Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton

Goldman Sachs bans employees from donating to Donald Trump -- but not Hillary Clinton

The investment firm is attempting to avoid potential pay-to-play conflict of interest violations


Scott Eric Kaufman
September 7, 2016 7:01PM (UTC)

According to a report in Fortune, investment bank Goldman Sachs has banned its employees from donating to the Trump/Pence presidential campaign -- but not to the Clinton/Kaine.

While this superficially smacks of favoritism, the firm insists it is simply trying to comply with new "pay-to-play" regulations, which dictate how investors can interact with state and local government officials. The Trump/Pence ticket is targeted as an example because Pence is still the sitting governor of Indiana, meaning that any donations to the GOP campaign could be interpreted as an attempt by the firm to influence local or state officials.

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The same rule does not apply to the Clinton/Kaine ticket because Kaine is currently a United States Senator, and therefore not a local or state official. Goldman Sachs is concerned about violating the pay-to-play regulations because it's already been fined for doing so -- in 2012, the firm was punished over contributions to Massachusetts state treasurer Timothy Cahill, who at the time was running for governor.

In a memo obtained by Fortune, senior Goldman Sachs officials said that "[t]he policy change is also meant to minimize potential reputational damage caused by any false perception that the firm is attempting to circumvent pay-to-play rules, particularly given partners’ seniority and visibility."

It is, the memo continued, "meant to prevent inadvertently violating pay-to-play rules, particularly the look-back provision, when partners transition into roles covered by these rules."


Scott Eric Kaufman

Scott Eric Kaufman is an assistant editor at Salon. He taught at a university, but then thought better of it. Follow him at @scottekaufman or email him at skaufman@salon.com.

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