Goldman Sachs, Citigroup Among Romney’s Biggest Campaign Donors

Eight out of the ten biggest donors to Mitt Romney’s campaign in the fourth quarter worked for banks and investment funds, according to U.S. Federal Election Commission information released yesterday.

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Romney’s investment background, which has drawn much criticism from his Republican presidential rivals, is helping him build a financial advantage over his opponents in his bid for the Republican ticket.

Romney, who has worked for numerous banks and investment funds and co-founded the Boston-based Bain Capital LLC, received $196,600 in campaign donations from Citigroup (NYSE:C) employees, $180,518 from JPMorgan (NYSE:JPM) workers, and $106,580 from Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS) employees, just in the last quarter.

In fact, Goldman employees and their families have been the largest source of cash for Romney’s campaign. Goldman has given Romney nearly half a million dollars over the course of his current campaign, shifting loyalties after contributing $1 million to President Barack Obama’s campaign four years ago.

This time around, the only financial institution to crack Obama’s top 10 list is JPMorgan, whose its employees donated $23,494 in the fourth quarter, a small fraction of what they gave to Romney.

“Wall Street supports someone they consider one of their own and the candidate perceived to be the most committed to promoting policies they prefer,” said Costas Panagopoulos, director of the Center for Electoral Politics and Democracy at Fordham University in New York.
That’s not exactly a glowing recommendation, considering the financial industry’s abuses have been blamed for the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression.

While Obama raised almost $16 million from employees in the securities and investment industry and their families during his last campaign, he has since championed new regulations designed to curb those abuses considered to have been responsible for the recession, prompting Wall Street to put its money elsewhere.

Romney has pledged to repeal Obama’s financial industry regulations, touting his own experience creating jobs at his successful investment firm. But his Republican opponents have rejected that claim, saying he actually destroyed jobs at Bain Capital while pocketing huge fees.

Romney, largely considered to be frontrunner in the race for the Republican nomination after winning the Florida primary on Tuesday, raised a total of $57 million for his campaign last year. Newt Gingrich, thought to be Romney’s biggest competition, raised $12.7 million.

But Obama raised more money from small-dollar donors than Romney raised overall, bringing in $58.5 million from contributions of $200 or less.

In total, the incumbent Democratic president raised $128 million for his re-election campaign last year, including $40 million in the last three months.

Obama’s biggest source of donations in the fourth quarter were employees at Google (NASDAQ:GOOG), IBM (NYSE:IBM), and the trial law firm of Morgan & Morgan PA. New York University professors and other employees contributed $24,060 to Obama’s campaign in the last quarter, making the school his eighth-largest source of donations.Obama still has some supporters in the financial industry — Goldman Sachs managing director Bruce Heyman raised more than $500,000 for Obama’s re-election campaign — but Romney’s support goes far beyond campaign donations. A number of so-called super-political action committees, or super PACs, have dedicated themselves to getting Romney elected.

Romney also disclosed to the FEC the names of 14 lobbyists — including Goldman Sachs lobbyist Joseph Wall and Thomas Boyd of DLA Piper — who tapped their own source networks to raise $1.2 million for his campaign by urging donations or hosting fundraisers, a practice called bundling.

Obama doesn’t accept donations from registered lobbyists, nor does he recruit them to host fundraisers on his behalf. And yet Obama reported that the number of fundraisers bringing in at least $50,000 increased to 445, up from 351 at the end of September.

The president named 61 bundlers who raised more than $500,000, up from 41 in September. Obama is the only presidential candidate to publicly identify all of the backers who are bundling donations.

It seems that, while Romney’s campaign contributions from the financial sector are helping give him an edge on his Republican opponents in their bid for the nomination, they may prove more burdensome than helpful should he ultimately be named the GOP’s candidate for the 2012 presidential election.

Obama still has more money to spend, and the sheer volume of small-dollar donors contributing to his campaign, coupled with the fact that the financial industry has largely backed the man most likely to be his opponent in the presidential race, should give him an edge with the so-called “99%” movement.

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To contact the reporter on this story: Emily Knapp at staff.writers@wallstcheatsheet.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Damien Hoffman at editors@wallstcheatsheet.com