I’m trying to figure something out, and I hope you can help me. Let’s put it in timeline form, just so we can see the big picture.
- 10/28/08 — Goldman Sachs, Inc., receives $10 billion in TARP funds in exchange for 10 million shares of preferred stock.
- 11/12/08 — Blanche Lincoln receives $1,000 donation from Goldman Sachs, Inc.
- 1/1/09 — According to her own campaign, Blanche Lincoln’s campaign ceases accepting contributions from executives, employees or Political Action Committees associated with TARP-assisted financial institutions headquartered outside the state of Arkansas.
- 6/17/09 — Goldman Sachs, Inc., which had received $10 million in TARP funds in October 2008, repurchases the $10 billion in preferred stock shares, thereby repaying TARP funds.
- 11/5/09 — Lincoln receives $2,500 from Goldman.
- 12/10/09 — Lincoln receives $500 from Goldman.
- 12/10/09 — Lincoln receives $1,500 from Goldman.
- 4/1/10 — Lincoln files her first-quarter fundraising report showing that she raised $1.34 million between January 1 and March 31, 2010, and she has $4.3 million cash on hand.
- 4/16/10 — Goldman is charged with fraud by the SEC over failing to disclose a conflict of interest on mortgage investments it sold as the housing market collapsed.
- 4/20/10 — Lincoln responds “No” when asked at a press event if she would return Goldman contributions, adding, “I don’t think I’ve accepted contributions disproportionately from any group.”
- 4/21/10 — Lincoln cancels a fundraising lunch with Goldman executives that was scheduled for 4/26/10, stating through a spokesperson that, “[i]n light of the SEC lawsuit against Goldman Sachs, Senator Lincoln will schedule no future campaign-related events with the firm and will accept no further contributions from the firm’s political action committee or its employees.” Lincoln continues to refuse to return the $4,500, however, pointing out that $4,500 is a drop in her fundraising bucket when compared to how much she raised from other donors.
So, here’s what I am trying to figure out: if you say that you are not going to accept campaign contributions from non-Arkansas companies that received TARP money (while saying nothing about “…until such time as the institutions repay their TARP funds”) and then you DO accept funds from one of those companies amounting to roughly 1/10th of 1% of your current cash on hand only to later find out that the company was defrauding investors even as the market was collapsing, why in the world wouldn’t you give back the money you received?
I really don’t have an answer to this question. Lincoln is correct that the money she received from Goldman was not “disproportionate” compared to other contributions, and she is correct that the money is inconsequential in terms of her total war chest. Correct or not, though, neither of those facts is really germane to the discussion.
The part Senator Lincoln seems to be missing or ignoring is that Goldman Sachs profited from this fraud while the housing market was careening off a cliff, then they accepted TARP money to the tune of $10 billion. Had Goldman not engaged in the illegal activities, they would have needed more TARP money to achieve the same rescuing effect, and you can not definitively say that Goldman would have been able to pay off their TARP debts prior to the time they donated to Lincoln’s campaign in 2009. POINT BEING that, by playing the “they had paid off TARP” card as an excuse for accepting money that she clearly said she wouldn’t accept, Lincoln is, in effect, saying “hey, homeowners who were defrauded by this company who contributed to me, thanks for falling victim to this giant bank so that I could find a little loophole in my ‘strong’ stance against fundraising from such companies.” Whether the amount was disproportionate to that given by other donors or composed a large percentage of her war chest does not change this.
So, again I ask, if the money is a pittance and its return would have no effect on your ability to run your campaign, and if there’s even a chance that your creative loophole for justifying the money’s acceptance was created at the expense of American homeowners, why in the world wouldn’t you just return the money and end all of this?