Goldman Sachs Pours Millions into Washington Efforts

Just a decade ago, Goldman Sachs spent less than $1 million annually on lobbying in Washington.

In the past two years, its lobby tab has been more than four times that. Goldman spent $4.35 million in 2011 and $4.6 million in 2010.

Coalition Builder Image of 2011 Lobbying Activity

In the current climate, with the firm combatting public distrust, government investigations and heightened regulation, there’s little reason to believe lobbying expenditures will drop.

If anything, Goldman’s woes have increased in recent months.

A federal judge ordered on Tuesday that company Chairman Lloyd Blankfein must discuss his interactions with the government when he is questioned by lawyers for Rajat Gupta, a former Goldman director accused of insider trading.

The company is still absorbing the aftershocks of an op-ed, written by former exec Greg Smith and headlined “Why I Am Leaving Goldman Sachs.” The piece confirmed many people’s worst suspicions after it was published earlier this month by The New York Times.
Smith, who is reportedly shopping a book proposal about his experiences, described a corporate culture fueled by disdain and disregard for clients, who were sometimes described as “Muppets.” (For a parody, see Funny or Die.)

Goldman has spent serious money in Washington since 2006, when it more than doubled its lobbying bills.

It now has a battalion of 45 lobbyists – including eight people in-house and nine outside lobby shops.

The firm has hired people with extensive Capitol Hill experience, including the following members of the First Street 30, the top federal lobbyists in 2011:

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  • John B. Breaux – Former U.S. senator (D-LA) and principal of Breaux-Lott Leadership Group
  • Trent Lott – Former senator (R-MS) and principal of Breaux-Lott.
  • Lindsay Hooper – Co-founder of Capitol Tax Partners LLP and former legislative director to Sen. Malcolm Wallop (R-WY).
  • Jonathan Talisman – Also with Capitol Tax Partners; former assistant Treasury secretary.
  • Daniel P. Meyer – Lobbyist with the Duberstein Group, former chief of staff to Newt Gingrich.
  • Richard A. Gephardt – Former congressman (D-MO) and House Democratic leader; now head of the Gephardt Group.

Goldman’s Washington office is headed by Michael Paese, former aide to Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) and a deputy director of the House Financial Services Committee.

Paese also worked as an executive vice president of the Securities Industry & Financial Markets Association, the financial securities trade group.

According to analysis by the Center for Responsive Politics, Goldman was the fourth-highest spender last year in the securities and investment industry, trailing the association; another trade group, the Investment Co. Institute; and Blackstone Group.

Goldman is also a major political contributor. The company handed out more than $6 million in the 2008 election cycle, and has already spent nearly $3.4 million in the 2012 cycle. The Center for Responsive Politics reports that Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney is by far the major recipient of Goldman funds, with a total $517,680. President Obama lags far behind, with just $65,974.

Much of the company’s focus in Washington has been on financial regulation, budget, trade and taxes. Here’s a list of legislation Goldman lobbied on in 2011:

112 H.CON.RES.34: Establishing the budget for the United States Government for fiscal year 2012 and setting forth appropriate budgetary levels for fiscal years 2013 through 2021.
112 H.R.11: Build America Bonds to Create Jobs Now Act of 2011
112 H.R.2055: Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2012
112 H.R.2608: Continuing Appropriations Act, 2012
112 H.R.3078: United States-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement Implementation Act
112 H.R.3079: United States-Panama Trade Promotion Agreement Implementation Act
112 H.R.3080: United States-Korea Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act
112 H.R.3080: United States-Korea Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act
112 H.R.3630: Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012
112 H.R.3765: Temporary Payroll Tax Cut Continuation Act of 2011
112 H.R.749: To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to permanently extend the subpart F exemption for active financing income.
112 S.365: Budget Control Act of 2011
112 S.627: Budget Control Act of 2011

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