September 15 was a rare day for Democratic Presidential contender Barack Obama and Republican rival John McCain. They both lambasted the greedy and corrupt (their words) Wall Street wheeler dealers for wreaking financial mayhem and pain on Main Street. The tough talk grabbed headlines and made the two contenders sound like the proverbial men on the white horse populists ready to take on the Wall Street greed merchants.
There was one thing, however, conspicuously missing from their Wall Street saber rattle. They didn't name the names of the greedy and corrupt executives or the malfeasant companies they blamed for causing the pain and suffering. In the days after the financial meltdown, they kept up their Wall Street saber rattle, yet they still mentioned no names.
This was no politically absent minded oversight. The prime culprits in the financial mess are prime players on Team Obama and Team McCain. They are prime team players even after the roaring financial Tsushima has hit.
Team McCain's Wall Street players have bundled nearly $80 million in campaign contributions. That's nearly 60 percent of his campaign funds.
Here's a very partial list of Team McCain Wall Street Team players all of whom have been deeply implicated in dubious subprime lending, stock swaps and trading and buys, credit manipulations, and influence peddling:
Citigroup Inc $145,050
Blank Rome LLP - $141,400
Greenberg Traurig - $129,987
Goldman Sachs $111,050
IDT Corp $80,150
Pinnacle West Capital $77,850
Bank of New York Mellon $74,000
JP Morgan Chase & Co $72,100
Credit Suisse Group $63,350
Lehman Brothers ($61,450
Bridgewater Assoc $58,300
Cisco Systems $56,850
Wachovia Corp $52,100
Morgan Stanley - $51,950
Team Obama has matched and in some cases exceeded Team McCain in the mad dash to bundle cash from Wall Street with one even more troubling note. In a hard nosed campaign back speech in San Antonio in February he blasted a top executive of a major subprime lender for getting an obscene severance package while millions were facing home foreclosures. The inference was that Obama would crackdown on subprime lending offenders.
The same week this writer called for Obama to prove it by dumping Team Obama finance chair Penny Pritzker. Pritzker is the former CEO of the defunct Superior Bank. The bank was knee deep in the subprime lending scam that put thousands of mostly poor and minority home borrowers in Chicago in deep hock. The Obama campaign responded that Pritzker was not charged or accused of any criminal wrongdoing, and the Pritzker family entered into a voluntary settlement and agreed to pay the government $460 million to defray its losses. Pritzker stayed and continues to bundle millions from her banking and financial pals for the Obama campaign.
But she's only one of Team Obama questionable Wall Street players. Here's a partial list of the others:
Theodore Janulis - Bundler (over $50,000) & Lehman Brothers Head of Global Mortgages
Francisco Borges - Bundler (over $50,000) and Chairman of Landmark Partners a private equity real estate firm.
Nadja Fidelia - Bundler (over $50,000) & Managing Director of Lehman brothers
Michael Froman - Bundler (over $50,000) & Managing Director of Citigroup
David Heller - Bundler (over $200,000) & Managing Director of Goldman Sachs
John Rhea - Bundler & Co-head of Lehman Brothers Global Investment Banking
J. Michael Schell - Bundler (over $100,000) & Managing Director at Citigroup
Jim Torrey - Bundler (over $200,000) and founder of the Torrey Funds - Hedge Funds
Todd Williams - Bundler (over $50,000) & Managing Director Goldman Sachs & The Real Estate Council
Tom Wheeler, Capital Partners, $100,000
Stanley O'Neal, former Chairman of Merrill Lynch $4,600
Brad Morrice, the former CEO and President of the imploded subprime lender, New Century Financial $4,600
Dozens of Lehman Brothers Executives, such as CEO Richard Fuld President Joseph Gregory have kicked in tens of thousands to his campaign.
Eric Schwartz, the co-head of Goldman-Sachs Global Asset Management has helped raise over $50,000.
Robert Wolf, the CEO of UBS Americas helped raise more than $200,000
Louis Susman, the Chairman of a Citibank subsidiary raised roughly the same amount.
None of Team Obama and Team McCain's Wall Street bundlers, direct depositors, and advisors has been charged with any crimes. The contenders have the right to take or bundle money from any legitimate source, including Wall Street. But there are two problems with their Wall Street team members. One the heavy cash from them makes it hard to believe that McCain and Obama's tough talk about Wall Street greed, corruption and even crackdowns is anything more than a play to the gate campaign talk.
The bigger problem is this. In the months after the election other big brokerage and investment houses, a bank or an S&L, auto manufacturers, and the airlines may line up with their hands extended in supplication to the White House (read: taxpayers) for help. Given the heavy cash the Wall Street players have dumped into Team Obama and Team McCain's coffers, will or even can whichever one bags the White House do more than talk tough about cracking down on Wall Street?
Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. His new book is The Ethnic Presidency: How Race Decides the Race to the White House (Middle Passage Press, February 2008).