It was an appropriate metaphor for the penetration of financial interests into politics that, halfway into Saturday’s Democratic debate, CBS moderator John Dickerson said, "We're going to talk about Wall Street" -- but first would have to take a commercial break. When the debate returned, Clinton was asked about the campaign contributions and speaking fees that she and her family have received from Wall Street.
“How do you convince voters you’re going to level the playing field when you’re indebted to some of its biggest players?” Dickerson asked.
“I think it’s pretty clear that they know that I will,” Clinton responded, insisting that she has “a very aggressive plan to rein in Wall Street.” Clinton pledged to “go after executives who are responsible for the decisions that have such bad consequences for our country.”
After criticism of the Obama administration’s approach with corporate lawbreaking -- in many cases, allowing companies to enter agreements in which they pay fines and their executives personally avoid prosecution -- Clinton’s campaign has proposed that “when Wall Street executives commit criminal wrongdoing, they deserve to face criminal prosecution.”
But less than two years ago, Clinton told a group of investors convened by Goldman Sachs that "the banker-bashing so popular within both political parties was unproductive and indeed foolish," Politico reported.
Two of Clinton’s top deputies while she was secretary of state came to her from Wall Street: Thomas Nides was an executive at Morgan Stanley, and Robert Hormats was at Goldman Sachs. Her 2016 presidential campaign’s chief financial officer, Gary Gensler, worked at Goldman Sachs before becoming the top regulator at the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission.
Clinton’s campaigns for senate and president over the course of her career have received $14.9 million in contributions from the financial industry. Her 2016 campaign alone has taken in $1.9 million from the financial sector.
The Clinton Foundation, led by former President Bill Clinton, and the Clinton family have accepted millions of dollars in donations and speaking fees from Wall Street, as well as from companies that have received the type of Obama administration settlements that Hillary Clinton says must end.
The Clinton Foundation has accepted $5 million in donations from nine financial institutions that paid fines to avoid prosecution while admitting wrongdoing. Clinton and her husband were paid nearly $4 million in speaking fees by those firms since 2009.