Gary Gensler is former head of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and earlier in his career logged time at Goldman Sachs. His name is now in circulation to be Treasury Secretary if Hillary Clinton wins the presidency. (AP Photo/Lawrence Jackson)
By: JACK NOLAND
Washington thrives on speculation and now, after months of guessing at things like primary contenders and vice presidential picks, it's time to draft potential cabinets. With no shortage of well-educated guesses on who might lead the various executive departments, certain names crop up more often than others, often officials and bureaucrats with substantial political and policy experience.
The key for would-be President Clinton, of course, is winning the election, which at this writing, seems more likely than not. So, here's a look at the fundraising and influence backgrounds of some of the elected officials, nonprofit leaders and businesspeople who have appeared on the lists. These selections, of course, are not meant to be exhaustive.
For former Secretary of State Clinton, filling the office she used to occupy would surely be an important task. Wendy Sherman has been all over the State Department across the years, as assistant secretary for legislative affairs (1993-1996), counselor (1997-2001), under secretary for political affairs (2011-2015) and acting deputy secretary (2014-2015). She also was the chief negotiator for the Iran nuclear agreement and led the Obama-Biden Transition Project's State Department section.
Between all those stints at State, Sherman was president and CEO of Fannie Mae, the government-sponsored mortgage company, from 1996 to 1997. She's long been associated with the Albright Stonebridge Group, the business strategy firm founded by former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, holding positions as vice chair and currently as senior counselor.
Center for Responsive Politics records show that Sherman has been a generous Democratic donor down the years, having given $51,800 to candidates and organizations since 1992.
A leading figure in the State debate is Tom Donilon, whose experience includes serving as chief of staff and assistant secretary for public affairs in the State Department during Bill Clinton's administration and as deputy national security advisor and national security advisor in the Obama White House. As reported by the Washington Post, many in leading foreign policy circles see Donilon as a favorite for the top diplomatic job.
After leaving Foggy Bottom in the '90s, Donilon practiced law at O"Melveny and Myers and later became a registered lobbyist at Fannie Mae, leaving in 2005. Since his time spent in the Obama administration, Donilon has returned to O'Melveny, where he is a partner. Since 1997, he and his wife, Ambassador-at-Large Catherine Russell, have contributed $65,328 to PACs and Democratic candidates, though the vast majority of Donilon's giving came during his private sector years.
On the other hand, Clinton could choose to keep the current Secretary of State, John Kerry. The failed Democratic nominee for the White House in 2004 and a senator from 1985 to 2013 has occupied the seat for most of President Obama's second term, replacing Clinton herself.
As might be expected of a 30-year politician, Kerry has collected a lot of money for his campaigns. Since 1989 - the earliest year for which the Center for Responsive Politics has complete data - he raised more than $392 million, a total that includes his presidential campaign fundraising. Kerry, a former assistant district attorney, received more money from lawyers and law firms - over $27 million - than any other industry. Employees affiliated with the University of California topped his individual contributions list, donating $700,755 to his efforts over the years, followed by individuals connected to Harvard University and Time Warner, as well as Time Warner's PAC. Kerry's candidate committee and leadership PAC together made more than $26.4 million in contributions to other campaigns and committees, though the lion's share of this sum derives from money transferred from his presidential campaign to party accounts.
Kerry and his wife, philanthropist Teresa Heinz, have personally contributed extensively down the years, giving $266,405. Heinz has made the vast majority of the contributions, however, and while most of the cash has gone to Democratic candidates and committees, she has donated to a handful of Republicans.
She's been called the "Likely Defense Secretary" in a Hillary Clinton administration and her background suggests she may well be equipped to become the first woman to hold the post. After being deputy assistant and principal deputy assistant secretary at DoD in the 1990s, Flournoy was under secretary for policy from 2009 to 2012.
Flournoy has established affiliations with a number of defense-focused think tanks, co-founding the Center for a New American Security, where she is CEO, and having previously been a senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. In 2008, she led the DoD segment of Obama's transition team. She's been active in Democratic politics for years, too, having contributed $11,825 with her husband, former Deputy Secretary of Veterans Affairs W. Scott Gould, to candidates and party committees since 2004 and $3,350 to Clinton over the course of the 2008 and 2016 campaigns.
Reed ticks several boxes that you might expect of a Defense Secretary: Captain in the U.S. Army, where he served as a paratrooper; West Point professor; 19-year U.S. senator; ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. His name is often raised in discussions about potential DoD leaders; in 2014, when then-Secretary Chuck Hagel resigned, Reed declared that he would rather stay in the Senate.
Center for Responsive Politics data shows that Reed has collected almost $17.8 million over the course of his career. Employees and the PAC of defense contractor General Dynamics have been his top donor group, giving a total $98,000 to the Rhode Island Democrat. Reed has received the most cash from lawyers and law firms - $1.6 million - followed by the securities & investment and real estate industries. His candidate committee and leadership PAC have contributed more than $1.9 million over the years to other candidates and committees, while Reed himself has given $4,100 to Democrats since 1992.
Smith, who has represented Washington's 9th Congressional District since 1997, is also considered a potential Defense pick. The Democrat is the ranking member on the House Armed Services Committee.
Over his 10 federal elections, Smith has raised more than $9.5 million, including more than $1 million apiece in his past two contests. Individuals and PACs associated with two Seattle-area business giants lead Smith's contributions, as those from Microsoft have kicked in $215,250 and those from Boeing have donated $121,450. Defense aerospace represents Smith's third-highest donating industry, contributing $466,400 over the years, behind only lawyers and law firms (Smith is a lawyer himself) and the electronics manufacturing and equipment industry.
Smith's personal political giving have been limited; he has contributed $4,000 to Democratic candidates and party committees. Outside of individual donations, however, his candidate committee and leadership PAC have contributed almost $1.8 million to other campaigns and party committees.
There are rumblings that a potential Clinton administration could look to the outside to lead the Treasury Department, possibly to Sheryl Sandberg, chief operating officer of Facebook. She has experience in the department, having been chief of staff to top Treasury official Larry Summers in the Bill Clinton administration.
Sandberg has made a name for herself in Silicon Valley, first at Google and, since 2008, at Facebook. Before her Treasury work, Sandberg was a consultant at McKinsey & Company, following a stint at the World Bank in the early '90s. With her cachet as one of the top businesswomen in America, she founded the Lean In Foundation to support women's empowerment. Sandberg and her late husband, SurveyMonkey CEO Dave Goldberg, were also top liberal donors - according to Center for Responsive Politics records, they have given $555,245 to Democratic candidates and statewide and national party committees since 2004.
In voluntary disclosures, the Clinton campaign revealed Sandberg to be among the 1,129 bundlers who have raised more than $100,000 each from friends and colleagues for the Democrat.
Gensler has already held office in the Treasury at the assistant secretary and under secretary levels from 1997 to 2001 and is the Clinton campaign's chief financial officer.
His resume is a complicated one. After graduating from Wharton, Gensler went to Goldman Sachs for 18 years, leaving to join Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin in 1997. He also served on the board at for-profit Strayer Education, Inc. from 2001 to 2009. After advising Democratic Sen. Paul Sarbanes, then Senate Banking Committee chairman, he joined Clinton's team in 2008 and in 2009 was appointed chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. While there, he became a left-wing darling for his tough policies on commodities regulation, in the process becoming, as Bloomberg Politics describes, "a financial-policy unicorn-a deregulator turned reformer."
Gensler has used some of that Wall Street money to fund Democrats around the country. CRP records show he has contributed $298,918 to candidates and parties since 1990. This year, the Clinton campaign also listed Gensler as a bundler, signifying that he has raised more than $100,000 for her over the course of this cycle.
Perez, the current Secretary of Labor, missed out when he was vetted, but not chosen, to be Clinton's vice presidential nominee. In the process, however, the Maryland Democrat apparently became close to both Bill and Hillary Clinton, friendships that could prove valuable when Hillary chooses an attorney general.
Perez's career has not included much time spent as an elected official - he was on the Montgomery County Council in Maryland from 2002 to 2006. After a run for Maryland attorney general from which he was disqualified for not having been a member of the Maryland bar for 10 years, Perez became the state's secretary of Labor, Licensing and Regulation, before ascending to become assistant attorney general for civil rights at the Justice Department from 2009 to 2013.
On a campaign finance level, Perez has not donated as much as some of his peers on this list, giving a paltry $1,250 to Democrats in the period since 2004. For his stymied run for state attorney general in 2006, he raised more than $500,000, according to state campaign finance reports.
Another potential attorney general pick also was in Obama's Cabinet, and previously had been a state official. Janet Napolitano headed the Homeland Security Department from 2009 to 2013 and left "after years of waiting to be attorney general," but could be in line for the position in a Clinton administration.
Napolitano has been the U.S. Attorney in Arizona (1993-1997), Arizona Attorney General (1999-2002) and the state's governor (2003-2009). The Democrat raised more than $4.6 million for her state elections, National Institute for Money in State Politics data show. The bulk of the cash raised for her two successful gubernatorial elections came from public subsidies.
Napolitano has steadily donated to Democrats over the years, giving $29,523 since 1990, including $11,573 while working at Lewis and Roca LLP in the early 1990s. From 1994 to 2016, she has contributed $13,500 to EMILY"s List. Napolitano now heads the University of California system, which made $800,000 in lobbying expenditures in 2015. Its employees made $1.65 million in contributions in 2014, the last full cycle for which data are available.
Some see a potential role for longtime ally Neera Tanden, president of the Center for American Progress, in a Clinton administration. Tanden worked as a policy director for the Clinton and later Obama campaigns in 2008 and was senior advisor to the Department of Health and Human Services from 2009-2010.
Tanden was registered as a lobbyist for the Center for American Progress Action Fund in 2006. She has repeatedly gone to bat for Clinton on social media this year and has given $1,279 to the Democrat, per Center for Responsive Politics data. The two share a long history: Tanden was Clinton's deputy campaign manager in her 2000 Senate bid.
The Arkansas Democrat, who was the youngest woman ever to win a U.S. Senate seat win elected in 1998 at 38 years old, has been mentioned as a potential pick for Agriculture secretary.
Over the course of her career, which included four years in the House and 12 in the Senate, Lincoln collected more than $23 million for her campaigns. During that period, individuals and the PAC associated with the Stephens Group topped her donor list at $127,350. She was also popular with employees and the PAC related to Arkansas-based Wal-Mart, who gave Lincoln $87,350 during that period.
After leaving the Senate, Lincoln has moved into lobbying and political consulting. At K Street heavyweight Alston & Bird, the Democrat lobbied for a number of groups, including Wal-Mart, the National Retail Federation and the Interstate National Gas Association of America. Since 2013, she has also been as an outside consultant for Wal-Mart. She founded Lincoln Policy Solutions that year, and has lobbied with that outfit for a wider slate of corporations and organizations, including agricultural giant Monsanto, Comcast, Valero Energy, the Ocean Conservancy and YUM! Brands.
She and her husband, Steve Lincoln, have also contributed to other Democrats, giving $51,548 since 1997, though the vast majority of her donations have been made after her return to the private sector in 2011. And Lincoln's leadership PAC and candidate committee gave just under $1.5 million to campaigns, PACs and committees over the years.
Senior Researcher Doug Weber and Researcher Alex Baumgart contributed to this report.