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Democrats decry Wall Street excesses but take lots of Goldman Sachs money -- a credibility problem?

April 21, 2010 |  7:53 am

Wall Street on April 19, 2010 as the Security and Exchange Commission launches civil fraud suit against Goldman Sachs

In 2010, the securities folks on Wall Street gave $32 million to political candidates -- and that was before the Supreme Court removed the ban on corporate campaign contributions in politics. More than 60% went to Democrats. And in 2008, Barack Obama's presidential campaign received almost $15 million from the finance industry. Nearly $1 million of it came from Goldman Sachs employees -- making the company Obama's second-largest source of donations. The only entity that gave more: the University of California.

All this comes from the Federal Elections Center and from the Center for Responsive Politics, whose website opensecrets.org has been working overtime to highlight a nasty truth about the current Democratic campaign against Wall Street excesses.

Politics costs money. So even if you're a Democrat beating up on Wall Street in hopes of corralling votes on Main Street, you are just as likely as a Republican to hold out your hand. As the Wall Street Journal noted this morning, New York Democrat Chuck Schumer is the top Senate recipient for political money from the investment industry -- garnering nearly $1.5 million this cycle. Fighting for his political life, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has so far accepted more than $500,000 from the industry.

Of course Republicans are not immune from the, um, perks of knowing those free-spending guys on Wall Street. Alabama's Richard Shelby has accumulated more than $300,000 so far this cycle, and that new darling of the Republican electorate, Massachusetts' Scott Brown, is over the $350,000 mark.

Maybe that's why word is now circulating on Capitol Hill that Democrats and Republicans are close to a deal on the financial regulatory reform bill. After all, with an election looming, it's probably bad politics for Republicans to defend the indefensible, and equally dangerous for Democrats to encourage voters to follow the money.

And the last thing anyone in politics wants to do is prompt the guys on Wall Street to withdraw their wallets.

-- Johanna Neuman

Photo credit: Getty Images

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