Goldman, lobbyists spurned in finance fight
Last week, White House officials approached leading financial firms seeking formal letters of support for a Congressional overhaul of financial regulations. One Wall Street powerhouse was left off the list: Goldman Sachs.
Given the US government’s lawsuit against Goldman, “the message,” said a financial executive involved in the discussions, “was that Goldman’s opinion doesn’t matter and that it would be negative if Goldman was supportive of what we were doing.”
Goldman Sachs employs perhaps the country’s most well-connected stable of Washington lobbyists, and it spent $2.8 million last year to bend the ear of federal officials and lawmakers. But the pounding the investment firm has taken in recent days has left it sidelined — at least in public — as Congress moves toward a decision that could reshape the very industry it rules.
Still, the company is trying to find a way to influence the debate, even if it cannot play as visible a role.
Goldman Sachs declined to comment on Wednesday on the impact that its legal and public relations troubles have had on its Washington lobbying operations. But one person briefed on its plans said it was still trying to push its agenda.
To make its case to lawmakers and their aides, the bank has been largely relying on trade groups to plead its case.
More often, the firm has relied largely on intermediaries because politicians are worried about being associated with it. “They know they’re not going to have that much of an impact,” said one lobbyist who works with Goldman.