Wall Street spent over $74 million to back Joe Biden’s run for president, topping Trump’s haul

Politics

Democratic U.S. presidential nominee and former Vice President Joe Biden speaks during a campaign stop in Atlanta, Georgia, October 27, 2020.

Brian Snyder | Reuters

People in the securities and investment industry will finish the 2020 election cycle contributing over $74 million to back Joe Biden’s candidacy for president, a much larger sum than what President Donald Trump raised from Wall Street, according to new data from the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics.

The cycle started in 2019.

The sum includes contributions during the first two weeks of October to Biden’s joint fundraising committees and outside super PACs backing his run. Harvey Schwartz, the former president of Goldman Sachs, gave $100,000 this month to the Biden Action Fund, a joint fundraising committee between the campaign, the Democratic National Committee and state parties.

Biden also received a ton of financial support from leaders on Wall Street in the third quarter. Going into the final two weeks of the election, Biden, the DNC and their joint fundraising committees had over $330 million on hand. Trump, the Republican National Committee and their joint committees had over $220 million on hand. Biden’s campaign is on track to raise $1 billion by Election Day, which is six days away.

Leaders of Biden’s campaign have been encouraging leaders on Wall Street to support the former vice president’s run since the start of the primary season.

Biden’s campaign chairman, Steve Ricchetti, met with finance executives in January to encourage them to back his candidate, CNBC reported at the time. Attendees included Evercore founder Roger Altman, longtime investor Blair Effron, Blackstone Chief Operating Officer Jonathan Gray, former Citigroup executive Ray McGuire, Centerbridge Partners co-founder Mark Gallogly, and former U.S. Ambassador to France Jane Hartley.

Most of these people ended up backing Biden either by hosting fundraising events or donating to his cause.

Data from CRP shows that outside groups backing Biden received big money support from executives at hedge fund Paloma Partners and people with ties to investment firm Renaissance Technologies. Jim Simons, the founder of Renaissance Technologies, gave at least $7 million to two super PACs supporting Biden since his victories on Super Tuesday in March, according to Federal Election Commission filings. Simons also gave over $350,000 to the Biden Action Fund in June.

Henry Laufer, who was the Renaissance chief scientist and vice president of research, gave $625,000 in June to the American Bridge PAC. Donald Sussman, the founder of Paloma Partners, finished the 2020 cycle giving at least $9 million to various Biden super PACs.

People working in hedge funds, private equity and other investment type firms finished the election giving close to $20 million directly to Biden’s campaign, CRP data shows.

Wall Street’s financial support for Biden is more than what Barack Obama received in his two presidential runs combined. It exceeds the amounts raised from Wall Street executives in support of President Donald Trump both in 2016 and the most recent 2020 election. The total will be less than Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential run; she saw just over $87 million from the securities and investment industry.

Trump receieved $20 million from those in the finance industry in 2016. Four years later, he will end his bid for reelection with just over $18 million from Wall Street. Many of Trump’s previous backers in the finance world, including those who gave millions to his 2017 inaugural, have distanced themselves from helping his bid for reelection.

Progressive pressure

Overall, the 2020 election cycle saw over $625 million from people working in the securities and investment industry, between congressional and presidential contests. It’s the most ever spent on an election by those who work in the finance and investment sectors.

Nearly $370 million went toward super PACs and outside groups that can raise unlimited amounts of money. Democrats received 63% of the money, and 37% went toward Republicans. Over $161 million went toward Democratic candidates up and down the ballot, while $94 million went to Republicans. In 2016, 50% of Wall Street money went toward Republicans while 49% went toward Democrats.

The funding from financiers on Wall Street has come even as progressives prepared to push back on Biden potentially naming business leaders to his cabinet.

Jeff Hauser, the founder of the progressive Revolving Door Project, which already has amassed troves of opposition research against potential Biden cabinet selections, said he is “cautiously optimistic” that Wall Street’s funding will not sway the possible administration’s personnel decisions. However, he believes advisors of the former vice president’s could see the help from the finance sector as a reason to allow them access to a Biden-White House.

“My concern is that conventional thinkers within Biden world might believe they should pay deference to the source of that $75 million,” Hauser told CNBC on Wednesday.

Biden’s support from large swaths of Wall Street comes as many of the big banks start to tell clients that the former vice president could be on a path to victory and that Democrats may sweep both houses of Congress.

Wall Street’s big bet

Goldman Sachs briefed clients two weeks ago on a possible Biden victory, according to an outline of the call obtained by CNBC.

Citing polling from Real Clear Politics, the bankers showed their clients an electoral map that estimates Biden is on the path to possibly winning the key states of Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, Florida, Arizona, Iowa, Ohio and North Carolina. With those wins plus victories in other states, Goldman told clients that Biden may end up with 360 electoral votes, which would be more than enough than the 270 electoral votes needed to win the presidency.

Those on the call, at the time, included Joe Wall, Goldman’s managing director of government affairs, and Ash Carter, former secretary of Defense under Obama.

Wall Street’s big bet on Joe Biden comes as these executives appear to be shrugging off a chance that their taxes may go up under his administration and are preparing for those new policies to take effect.

Deutsche Bank published a client note on Wednesday with numerous public state and national polls showing Biden ahead of Trump. They then gave a breakdown of how Biden’s tax proposal, which would raise taxes on those making over $400,000, could impact high income earners. One of the reports they cite is an analysis from the Tax Policy Center.

The overview of the report from mid October says Biden’s “proposals would increase federal revenues by $2.4 trillion over the next decade. Under his plan, the highest-income households would see substantial tax increases; tax burdens would fall for households in the bottom two income quintiles.”

Biden has also proposed expanding the child tax credit. It would increase a family’s annual, per-child credit to $3,000 from $2,000 and would be awarded in installments each month instead of the current springtime lump sum. Children under age 6 would be credited $3,600.

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