When Barack Obama ran for president in 2008, no major U.S. corporation did more to finance his campaign than Goldman Sachs Group Inc. GS +0.73%
This election, none has done more to help defeat him.
Prompted by what they call regulatory attacks on their business and personal attacks on their character, executives and employees of Goldman Sachs have largely abandoned Mr. Obama and are now the top sources of money to presidential candidate Mitt Romney and the Republican Party.
In the four decades since Congress created the campaign-finance system, no company's employees have switched sides so abruptly, moving from top supporters of one camp to the top of its rival, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of campaign-finance data compiled by the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics.
Employees at Goldman donated more than $1 million to Mr. Obama when he first ran for president. This election, they have given the president's campaign $136,000—less than Mr. Obama has collected from employees of the State Department. The employees have contributed nothing to the leading Democratic super PAC supporting his re-election.
By contrast, Goldman employees have given Mr. Romney's campaign $900,000, plus another $900,000 to the super PAC founded to help him.
Underscoring the magnitude of the reversal, Goldman has been the No. 1 source of campaign cash to Democrats among companies during the 23 years the Center for Responsive Politics has been collecting such data.
In interviews with more than a dozen past and current Goldman executives, many said they felt betrayed by Democratic lawmakers and the White House, for years considered friendly allies. Several Goldman executives said they didn't want to speak out publicly against the president, and that their donations speak for themselves.
Jim Donovan, a banker formerly in charge of Goldman's relations with Bain & Co., the private-equity firm run by Mr. Romney, helped draw his colleagues' attention to the GOP candidate. "As a longtime friend to Mitt and Ann, I can attest that his conviction and strength on fixing the U.S. economy is compelling as are his values," said Mr. Donovan, who handles Mr. Romney's personal investments. "That is why there has been such a strong outpouring of support for Mitt from all sectors."
A Goldman spokesman said, "Donations are made by individual employees according to their own views." Goldman is prohibited by law from making corporate donations to political candidates; the firm also has a rule against donating to super PACs and other independent entities.
Resentments against the White House began, said senior Goldman executives, because the firm thought it would be consulted when the Obama administration began crafting regulations in response to the financial crisis. They weren't. Instead, they were surprised by a measure dubbed the Volcker rule, which would damage one of Goldman's lucrative businesses.
Goldman executives, especially those who had raised millions of dollars for Mr. Obama's election, said they were offended by the president's populist rhetoric, including his famous quip about "fat cat bankers."
"Look at what he did—he attacked those guys and made it personal," said Rick Hohlt, a financial-services lobbyist. "In the old days you give money because you want to have a seat at the table even if you get screwed. But they weren't even offering a seat at the table."
Both the White House and the Obama campaign declined to comment on the Goldman contributions...
Source: Argentine Beef Packers S.A.
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