Joe Biden, Kamala Harris And Pete Buttigieg Are Reportedly Raking In The Most Wall Street Donations

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) touches former Vice President Joe Biden during the second night of the first Democratic presidential debate on June 27, 2019 in Miami, Florida.
Drew Angerer / Getty Images

A new CNBC report reveals that Wall Street’s biggest banks have begun donating to their favorite Democratic presidential candidates. Although the race is still early, for now, those candidates are Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, and Pete Buttigieg, who have reportedly received contributions for at least 15 bank executives combined during the second quarter.

According to Federal Election Commission records, the executives are from Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, J.P. Morgan Chase, Bank of America, and Citigroup. Although the donations from these bank executives are just a small portion of the million that the candidates raised during their second quarter, which lasts three months, they are still useful to determine which candidates donors are eyeing for their support in the 2020 race.

But a spokesman for Goldman Sachs claims that all contributions from executives are personal and do not represent an endorsement from the company as a whole.

“Any decision to donate to a presidential candidate is an individual’s choice, not the firm’s,” they said.

Regardless, New York Magazine reports that a dinner for the Democratic Party’s highest-profile donors in early April revealed the fears of some of the current candidates — particularly Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. One banker at the dinner said there was “tremendous fear” given the fact that candidates with Wall Street ties, such as Cory Booker and Kirsten Gillibrand, were having a tough time in the polls — as they still are.

“Warren strikes fear in their hearts,” said a New York executive close to banking leaders from both the Democratic and Republican parties.

“She would torture them,” another banker said of Warren.

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Harris was reportedly a favorite of many people at the dinner at least partly thanks to her pass on prosecuting OneWest and its CEO, Steven Mnuchin, during her time as California’s attorney general. She also headlined a fund-raiser hosted by LionTree CEO Aryeh Bourkoff and is getting advice from Wall Street connections.

“People are generally in search of a candidate who has the right set of views, has the right character, but also can win,” said investor Steven Rattner. “Right now, it is very hard to see who checks all three boxes.”

Buttigieg was also a favorite and quickly gained support from influential bundlers in the world of Wall Street, including Steve Elmendorf, a D.C. lobbyist with close ties to Wall Street leaders, and Hedge-fund manager Orin Kramer.

Although Biden has tried to remain friendly with Wall Street, he has also been attempting to appeal to voters that swing left toward the policies of Warren and Sanders. Regardless, he hasn’t mentioned the big banks or financial industry regulation in his policy proposals.