Goldman Sachs' top 1% employees can't donate to Trump

Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton battle over big banks
Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton battle over big banks

Goldman Sachs is prohibiting its top officials from donating to the campaigns of state and local politicians.

The rule change also applies directly to presidential nominee Donald Trump and his running mate Mike Pence.

In an email sent September 1 to Goldman Sachs' "partners," its highest-ranking employees, the bank's government compliance department forbade them from making donations to "any federal candidate who is a sitting state or local official."

The email also says that the rule applies to any "governor running for president or vice president, such as the Trump/Pence ticket." Vice presidential candidate Mike Pence is the governor of Indiana. Donations to Trump and Pence's PACs or Super PACs will also not be allowed.

However, the new guidelines don't prohibit Goldman's top brass from donating to Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine. Kaine is a U.S. senator and Clinton doesn't hold any current office.

Goldman's new rules apply to about 450 of Goldman's high-ranking employees called "partners." Blankfein, the CEO, is a partner, for example. They only make up about 1% of the company's nearly 37,000 employees.

Goldman's rule change stems from its interpretation of rules the Securities and Exchange Commission put in place in 2010 that cover all asset managers and prohibit certain top-level employees from donating to state and local officials.

Related: The Clintons earn most of their money from paid speeches

A spokesman confirmed that Goldman's partners are still allowed to donate to Clinton's campaign but emphasized that the impact of the rule change on the presidential election is entirely coincidental.

The core reason behind the change is to avoid any conflict of interest where political donations to state and local officials can be seen as buying their business, such as managing state pension funds or helping raise municipal debt.

Trump doesn't have much to lose. So far in this election cycle, Goldman employees have given only $3,601 to Trump, according to, a non-profit that tracks campaign donations.

Goldman Sachs employees gave $201,119 to Hillary Clinton and $100,000 to Priorities USA, the PAC that supports her presidential bid. Goldman employees also donated $371,245 to the Republican National Committee.

Related: Goldman fined $36 million by the Fed

Clinton's ties to Wall Street, and specifically Goldman Sachs, have come up repeatedly during the election cycle.

In October 2013, Hillary Clinton was paid $225,000 to speak at Goldman Sachs "Builders and Innovators" conference held at the Ritz Carlton Dove Mountain Resort in Marana, Arizona. The speech in 2013 was one of three Clinton gave at Goldman Sachs events.

Goldman says that Republicans too have spoken at its events. Condoleeza Rice, Colin Powell and Robert Gates have all received payment from Goldman Sachs.

Wall Street overall tends to prefer Clinton over Trump. A recent survey by E*Trade Financial found that investors believe Clinton would be better for U.S. markets than Trump. That's because they hope that a Clinton presidency would come with Republican control of Congress and be hit by gridlock, with little chance of new Wall Street-targeted laws.

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