WASHINGTON — The leading patron of President Clinton's political career is not an Arkansas poultry empire or a wealthy Little Rock banking family, but one of Wall Street's most powerful investment houses--Goldman, Sachs & Co., according to a new study of money and politics.
The report by the Center for Public Integrity found that Clinton has received more than $107,000 in campaign contributions from officers of Goldman, Sachs, making the company the single largest source of his political funds.
The Clinton administration also has drawn several senior officials from Goldman, Sachs--including its former co-chairman, Treasury Secretary Robert E. Rubin. This illustrates the study's conclusions about the interplay between contributions and government appointments and actions.
Charles Lewis, the center's director and the study's principal author, said that his research reveals that an American presidential campaign is not a horse race or a beauty contest, "but a giant auction in which multimillion-dollar interests compete to influence and gain access to the candidates who would be president."
Clinton's close political and financial ties to the Tyson and Stephens families of Arkansas have been well documented, but his reliance on Goldman, Sachs is less well known.
The new study, "The Buying of the President," is the result of more than a year of work by dozens of researchers and computer analysts for the center, a foundation-supported Washington research group. The workers scrutinized 16 years of campaign finance reports and conducted scores of interviews to produce the 271-page volume. The report details the fund-raising of Clinton and his major Republican challengers.
The study noted that in addition to soliciting Clinton contributions from his partners, Rubin and his wife gave $275,000 from their personal foundation to the New York Host Committee to help defray the costs of the 1992 Democratic National Convention.
Rubin, whose net worth has been estimated at $100 million, was an important advisor to Clinton's campaign and later became the first director of the National Economic Council. As principal White House economic counselor, and later as Treasury secretary, Rubin has been an important voice in urging Clinton to tame the federal budget deficit, a policy that has benefited Goldman, Sachs' bond-trading business.
Goldman, Sachs' Washington lobbyist, prominent Democrat Michael Berman, has raised thousands of dollars for the fund Clinton established to help pay the legal costs of defending himself against the sexual-harassment charges of former Arkansas state employee Paula Corbin Jones.
And Clinton appointed former Goldman, Sachs partner Kenneth Brody to head the Export-Import Bank, which subsidizes the cost of exporting goods for many major American corporations.
The study also found that Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole's third-largest lifetime contributor, the Koch family of Wichita, Kan., has given nearly $500,000 to Dole's campaigns and his political and charitable foundations. Koch Industries, one of the nation's largest independent oil and gas concerns, benefitted handsomely from a 1995 regulatory reform bill written and sponsored by Dole. At the time the bill was introduced, the company was facing a $54-million civil lawsuit filed by the federal government charging repeated violations of the Clean Water Act.