Clinton's Collecting A Lot Less Wall Street Money Than You Think
Credit: Hillary Clinton
August 4, 2015

How can this be true when everyone on my Facebook page tells me otherwise?

One of the most persistent knocks on Hillary Clinton is that she's too close to Wall Street and Washington's K Street lobbying industry.

It's true that Clinton, a former New York senator, has strong ties to the titans of finance: Big banks and investors are generous donors to the Clinton Foundation; they've given to this campaign and Clinton's past bids; and some of Clinton's closest allies in politics have been through the revolving door between Washington and Wall Street. Similarly, many Clinton backers, including some former aides to her and her husband, lobby for a living.

But a close look at Clinton's first campaign finance report of the 2016 presidential campaign shows that she raised $46 million with limited backing from the nation's top financial institutions and lobbying firms.

Instead, as her campaign has long maintained, Clinton's war chest is being stocked by a wide base of supporters. The richest sources of cash for her include federal workers, lawyers, media company employees, Hollywood agents, and California state workers — and, yes, a handful of Wall Street investment houses and prominent Washington lobbying firms.

At a time when Clinton is trying to counter the narrative that she's beholden to Wall Street and corporate America — represented in Washington by K Street lobbyists — the numbers show that she doesn't yet depend on their contributions. That, coupled with the pressure of rising populism in the electorate, may explain why Clinton feels she has plenty of political latitude to propose tightening financial industry regulations, raising capital gains taxes, and punishing corporate executives whose companies break the rules.

As Vox's Matthew Yglesias has written, Clinton was known for her relative antipathy toward Wall Street during her husband's administration — telling Bill Clinton that he wasn't elected to help Wall Street, pushing him to rail against CEO pay, and successfully lobbying him to veto a bankruptcy bill favored by big banks. When she represented New York in the Senate, Clinton became more of an advocate for the Big Apple's marquee industry, reversing course on the bankruptcy bill and opposing any increase in taxes on capital gains. But now, in concert with the rise of left-wing economics in the Democratic Party, Clinton is returning to her more liberal roots.

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