Feist isn't exactly wrong about this. Goldman Sachs employees did contribute nearly a million dollars to Obama's presidential campaign in 2008. But Robert Yoon's article linked in his post is wrong, and I can't figure out if it was just an editing error or intended to be inflammatory. Whatever it is, it's probably worth putting a stake through the heart of the ever-recycled rumor of Goldman Sach's PAC donations.
What Yoon says:
According to Federal Election Commission figures compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics, Goldman Sachs' political action committee and individual contributors who listed the company as their employer donated $994,795 during 2007 and 2008 to Obama's presidential campaign, the second highest contribution from a company PAC and company employees. Only the PAC and employees of the University of California, which donated more than $1.5 million, topped Goldman Sachs. Federal law prohibits a company from directly giving money to a campaign committee.
What the Open Secrets (Center for Responsive Politics) reports say:
A little perspective
This is important. There is a refund of one effort by a PAC to donate, and an issue-related donation of $300. That is the only PAC money applicable to the Obama 2008 campaign. I can understand how Yoon concluded that such a large total must have included PAC funds. There's a summary at the top of the Open Secrets page which cautions viewers to understand what PACs are and what role they play, since companies can't be direct donors. However, if Yoon had clicked on the donor stats tab on the page he viewed, he would have gotten a little more perspective on the whole Goldman Sachs campaign donation thing, and why he's wrong to make a big deal out of it.
While it is true that Goldman-Sachs employees gave nearly a million dollars to the Obama campaign, it's equally true that no one donor gave any more than any other individual from any other profession, and when taken as a percentage of the total given to his campaign, it was less than 1% of the total given by everyone.
It is also true that the Obama campaign received more from small contributors ($200 or less) than any other campaign in history -- over $25 million. That number represents more than 125,000 individuals.
319,706 people donated $200 or more to the Obama campaign in 2008. 60.5% of them donated $1,000 or less. Those donors represent 21% of total donations, or $73.5 million. In contrast, if every single Goldman Sachs employee gave $2300, it would represent 433 donors. If we added up every Wall Street firm on the Open Secrets list and assumed each employee gave the maximum, it would represent 1,576 donors out of the nearly 59,000 who gave more than $2300 to his campaign.
Now that we have donor information from the Center for Responsive Politics in perspective, what exactly is CNN's point, anyway? Lots of people donated. Who gets more weight? The ones who gave $25 million in increments of $5 each, or the ones who gave $1 million capped at $2,300 each?
I think we can all figure out the answer to that.