Guest Post: Top Recipient of Political Cash from BP, Goldman Sachs, Defense Contractors AND Healthcare Giants: Barack Obama

Washington’s Blog

Preface:  The story that Obama was the top recipient of political contributions from BP is going viral today.  I thought I’d put the story in a little context.

As a side note, I voted for Obama, and had high hopes for him … until he appointed Summers, Geithner, various Bush re-treads and industry shills, and then showed that he would play footsie with the big boys instead of the American people.

Politico reports:

BP and its employees have given more than $3.5 million to federal candidates over the past 20 years, with the largest chunk of their money going to Obama, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

Obama apparently also got more contributions from Exxon and Chevron than McCain.

And Obama had the most political contributions from Goldman Sachs in 2008 of all senators. And Goldman gave more to Obama than any other presidential candidate, and was Obama’s second-largest contributor.

In addition, Obama was the top congressional recipient of defense industry contributions for the 2008 election cycle. See this, this and this.

Obama was also the top recipient of money from the healthcare giants in the presidential election.

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About George Washington

George Washington is the head writer at Washington’s Blog. A busy professional and former adjunct professor, George’s insatiable curiousity causes him to write on a wide variety of topics, including economics, finance, the environment and politics. For further details, ask Keith Alexander…


  1. aleealee

    You all know that these factoids have nothing at all to do with the decisions he’s made so far. Absolutely none. He ran on hope and never changed. His beliefs are there beliefs. His principles are their principles. I bet he would have told his principles to someone who mattered if someone who mattered were allowed to ask him.

    1. lambert strether

      I love it. “He ran on hope and never changed.”

      There’s a typo, though: “He ran on hope and never changed anything.”

      Of course, for the elites who own him and both legacy parties, that’s not a bug but a feature.

  2. alex black

    Apparently, the promise of our first “post-racial” President means that weasels come in all colors.

  3. Doc Holiday

    Simply shocking that any president would take money from corporations, banks, mafia and little old ladies … thank God that Bush was so friggn honest with all the housing industry and Fannie, Freddie …. I’m udderly milkless.

  4. scorp99cam

    Show me an example where the winner didn’t get the most donations. Special interests don’t care who, they just give to the winner.

  5. Luis

    Like you said: WAS. A lot has chanced since then and it looks like the shift is back to the Republicans. Pointing at some facts without taking all of them is resorting to bending reality to your opinion. To be fair, look at Congress –where laws are made– for how the left and right are being prostituted by BIG business.

  6. alex black

    Obama and Axelrod last Christmas, making a list, checking it twice:

    Obama – “Got a lot from Goldman Sachs….”

    Axelrod – “Yeah, got them covered already: TARP, Geithner – and we’ll gut financial reform too, make sure it doesnt’ actually touch them. They were very generous.”

    Obama – “And the oil companies….”

    Axelrod – “We’ll expand off-shore drilling.”

    Obama – “Health care giants?”

    Axelrod – “We’ll force 30 million new people to buy insurance from them – they already agreed to do a huge fake premium increase right at a crucial moment in case legislation gets….tricky.”

    Obama – “Okay. And on the stump, I kept referring to a little old lady who sent me $2 along with a page of Scripture from her Bible. What are we giving her?”

    Axelrod – Silence. Befuddled….

    Obama – “Ah ha ha ha ha ha!! I had you going didn’t I?”

    Axelrod – (smiling) “You kill me sometimes, Boss.”

    1. craazyman

      Oh man, you’re making me laugh and cry at the same time. Sad but true. This guy, the Big Zero, is really bad for my Xanax dependency. I’m hitting the little pink pill now every day, just to keep my rudder in the water LOL. Everything is going insane, but I won’t. I’ll just park myself in the absinthe bar in Paris when the shit really hits the fan.

  7. Dustin

    It is quite mis-leading to say that he received this money FROM the aforementioned industries. He received money from individuals that WORK in those industries. His entire campaign received less than $2,000.00 from PACs, and received less from contributions $500-2000 than any other (serious) candidate.

  8. Michael

    Of course they’re only called bribes when it happens in some ravaged african nation.

    So much for ‘the greatest democracy in the world’.

  9. M

    As Dustin says, it is misleading to say that he received money from corporations. Corporations can’t donate to political campaigns. The employees of Goldman Sachs and BP donated the money, and that could mean everyone from the janitor to the CEO. Also, individuals can’t contribute more than $2,300 per campaign.

    When you donate to a campaign you have to fill out a form stating your occupation and employer, whether you identify with the interests of your employer or not.

    95% of the employees of the graphic design firm I worked for in 2008 contributed to Obama, so you could add Graphic Design to your list of industries with a leash on Obama.

    1. Doug Terpstra

      Let’s not kid ourselves. These contributions (bribes) are explicitly aggregated by specific corporations and industry associations by aggressive bundlers, who ensure massively targeted leverage over public policy by direct assignation of such such bribes to specific issues or causes. Of course, these campaign bribes are then dwarfed by armies of lobbyist, and worse yet, thanks to the Supine Court, these same corporations can now campaign directly in our public elections with unlimited spending. Our democracy (republic) is effectively dysfunctional—perhaps fatally flawed.

      1. skippy

        Whilst in the military I never heard any one suggesting democrat or other, besides republican.

        It was pure sujestive manipulatiuon.

        Don’t ask don’t tell ja ja ja.

        Skippy…heard animals to the end, local flavor or corporation still the same.

      2. M

        I don’t mean to seem disingenuous, and I’ve no doubt corporations like GS and BP have disproportionate influence on the government, but I also don’t think the issue of campaign donations is as cut-and-dried as people think. Do people here really think that campaign donations = bribes? Does anyone here actually think someone can be elected to the Presidency with no campaign donations? That would really mean only ex-GS employees could become President.

        I’ve met employees of GS who are convinced that GS runs the world (not just the US), but it seems to be more from a lobbying issue. I am more upset about the likes of Jamie Dimon seeming to be cozy with the Whitehouse than whether he contributed $2000 to the campaign.

  10. Doug Terpstra

    Thank you, GW, for an important post—however sickening.

    Who can possibly pretend any longer that there is not a straight line between open bribery and the subversion of public policy for private profit? It is intolerable that private money can now buy presidents, judges, ‘representatives’, and ‘regulators’ in order to strip-mine our shared commonwealth and natural habitat, dismantle our production capacity, and plunder our treasury with arrogant impunity.

    The BP catastrophe was every bit as forseeable and preventable as de-funded N.O. levees, and every bit as inexusable for both Bush-Cheney and Obama-Biden. For Sec-Interior, Obama appointed Ken Salazar, a cozy bedmate of big oil, who promptly caved to the “drill-baby-drill” gang to expand offshore drilling, specifically exempted BP from mandated environmental impact statement analysis, and approved its deeply-flawed, explicitly out-of-compliance safety plan. Salazar should immediately resign or be fired for his direct culpability in this historic environmental crime. This fascist kleptocracy must not stand!

    Obama’s degenerating presidency is tracking the tragic model of Herbert Hoover, potentially worse. He must seriously clarify his priorities and loyalties if he ever hopes to redeem his presidency—now an increasignly remote possibility.

  11. dh

    Barack overestimated himself. I also overestimated BO. I thought he would stand for the Constitution if nothing else.

    Barack is George Bush with brains which makes BO far more dangerous.

  12. Doc Holiday

    !. “Salazar should immediately resign or be fired for his direct culpability in this historic environmental crime. This fascist kleptocracy must not stand!”

    2. Well said, Doug Terpstra, thank you!

  13. wunsacon

    We don’t need to look at funding (a kind of “ad hominem attack”) to evaluate Obama’s corporate-friendly policies.

    Indeed, all these donations can potentially be explained fairly simply: no one wanted Sarah Palin and/or Joe the Plumber so close to the presidency and/or part of the political landscape.

    1. Yves Smith

      Ha, you are SOOO right about Palin! Partway through her acceptance speech, I was so appalled that I went to my computer and gave money to Obama! I had NO intention of making a donation before I saw her in action.

      1. Sundog

        A buddie called me on the day; best I could manage was “at least I don’t have to wake up wondering if Sarah Palin is president.”

        1. madamab

          Uh, Sarah Palin IS President, folks. Did you read Obama’s Executive Order that was, appallingly, attached to a bill that purported to be about health care? In effect, how is her position on reproductive rights any different than Obama’s?

          The environment? They both favor offshore drilling.

          Same-sex marriage? They are both against it – Obama says “God is not in the mix.”

          The wars in Iraq, Afghanistan? Both in favor of staying till we “win.”

          Someone please tell me how Obama’s actual policies differ from Sarah Palin’s when she was in office, or as a VP candidate. I’m not talking about campaign promises like “The first thing I’ll do when I get into office is sign the Freedom of Choice Act!” I’m talking about what he has actually DONE.

          Golly gee, am I hearing crickets?

          I thought so.

  14. fresno dan

    Being a mild libertarian, I read “Reason” occasionally. It once had a very cogent arguement on why everyone should have the right “not to vote” and why, that is sometimes the best choice.

    The fact of the matter is that our entire party system works feverishly to constrain the choices put before the voters. Is it any wonder that the discussion, with camps labeled as “blue” or “red” gets a level of debate equivalent to an arguement between Jets and Giants fans?
    I’m not red, or blue, or purple. I’m fuchsia dammit! (and fuchsia is not a euphamism for “gay” although there is nothing wrong with that).

  15. dwight baker

    WHAT MORE needs to be said?
    By Dwight Baker
    May 6, 2010

    As said —–As a side note, I voted for Obama, and had high hopes for him —-I am but one more of the millions that did the same thing.

    I was thrilled with the exuberance of the times particularly when I saw much of the worlds younger populations enthralled by Obama being elected. As their high hopes for the future was there for them akin to our own. Obama claiming to support all efforts for stopping the Wars, bringing our troops home, prosecuting war criminals, shutting down the evil troughs where the Lobbyist spread the money around in Washington DC for all to see and many to take as bribes for political favors.

    I believed like many more the Barack had the goods to form an attack on the vile and evil that many had witnessed during the Bush Bunch Regime of misfit immoral morons running about everything amuck, and many of those things running them into the ground for the sake of the big time war bucks.

    From my many years in Oil and Gas I knew the cons that thrived around the Caspian Sea, and I had records about how Dick Cheney led our Corporate Giants into that area to cut deals. For many years I had been a casual bystander in Politics of all sorts, thinking that I could game the system with the best of them, in essence having the personal power raw guts and instincts to rise about the tides proposed by any political regime here or abroad.

    But I was older now and with age come many personal, civil and emotional heartaches and disabilities that knocked the wind from below my wings. All the many that I know about the same age [65] have doubts about how their lives and how they had lived and in the end for what purpose did they exist.

    With my family friends kin and particularly my grand children in mind their welfare being driving forces that makes my train continue to run up the American Political track, I set standards that Obama had to met or I was going to raise doubts about him in open public dissent using the internet as the medium. And to that end I gave him a time line of sixty days after inauguration for Obama to make his words into facts by his actions. And he has failed me and mine, NOW HOW’S ABOUT YOU?

  16. Brigida Pleasanton

    hello! I’m David and I am from UK, Kent .I am new to this forum. I have just set up my new Plumbing site and i am interested in your product. I have just qualified as a heating engineer. My site is a bit basic,

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