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Sorting out the truth in politics

PolitiFact: Claim that Wall Street executives donate mainly to Democrats is false

The statement

"Eighty percent of Wall Street executives and their spouses' donations go to Democrats."

U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, April 12 in a speech

The ruling

We asked Gohmert's office for their sourcing, and they provided several columns in the National Review by Michael Franc of the conservative Heritage Foundation.

In one of them, Franc wrote that "a review of Federal Election Commission data for the current presidential-election cycle sheds light on this important question. Judging by who they support for president, a strong majority of employees at the highest reaches of Wall Street's big financial institutions are, well, big liberals. More Wall Streeters shower far more money — both overall as well as on average — on the more liberal presidential candidates than on their more conservative alternatives."

Franc wrote that he used Fundrace 2008, a campaign-finance data tool created by the Huffington Post, to look at donations from such employees as investment bankers, managing directors and senior managing directors.

Not only is that four campaign cycles ago, but there's also been a sea change in Wall Street's partisan preferences since then.

The Center for Responsive Politics, which downloads Federal Election Commission disclosures by donors and candidates, addressed this question in a 2013 report.

The center wrote that Wall Street money, like much big money in politics, follows power, and after Democrats took control of the House and Senate in 2006, they began to increase their share of donations.

"As recently as 2009, Democrats were collecting more campaign cash from Wall Street than Republicans," the center wrote. However, the center added, "that dynamic shifted at the end of 2009, with more money flowing to Republicans in 2010." And starting in 2011, the report continued, "the gap widened and Wall Street's financial support for one party (the GOP) began to tip the scales."

In the 2012 campaign cycle, donations by individuals in the center's "securities and investment" category — the closest category to "Wall Street" — were running 70 percent to Republicans, 30 percent to Democrats, and so far during the 2014 cycle, 63 percent of the industry's money is going to Republicans, with 36 percent to Democrats.

For individuals in the category "commercial banks," 71 percent of donations went to Republicans in 2012 and 74 percent so far in 2014. And for the umbrella category "finance, insurance and real estate," 66 percent went to Republicans in 2012 and 58 percent so far in 2014.

For each of these three categories, the year Franc based his data on — 2008 — was either the high point or close to the high point for Wall Street donors' friendliness to Democrats (at least going back to 1990, when the center began collecting this data).

We rate Gohmert's claim False.

Edited for print. Read the full version at PolitiFact.com.

PolitiFact: Claim that Wall Street executives donate mainly to Democrats is false 04/25/14 [Last modified: Friday, April 25, 2014 4:56pm]
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