Goldman Sachs headquarters, in New York. The Wall Street firm's net income fell 83 percent due to trading revenue and a charge for its SEC settlement.
Goldman Sachs headquarters, in New York. The Wall Street firm's net income fell 83 percent due to trading revenue and a charge for its SEC settlement. Mark Lennihan/AP
Critics were quick to decry the Supreme Court's decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, arguing it could transmogrify the American electoral landscape.
President Obama said the Court "has given a green light to a new stampede of special interest money in our politics."
It is a major victory for big oil, Wall Street banks, health insurance companies and the other powerful interests that marshal their power every day in Washington to drown out the voices of everyday Americans.
This ruling gives the special interests and their lobbyists even more power in Washington — while undermining the influence of average Americans who make small contributions to support their preferred candidates.
In the wake of the Citizens United ruling, at least one Wall Street titan, Goldman Sachs, restricted the company's ability to influence elections, amending its internal policies.
Javier C. Henandez, a reporter for The New York Times, noticed the global investment banking and securities firm "quietly revised its statement on political activities on its Web site last week, adding a sentence addressing the powers that were granted under the Supreme Court decision in January," saying "Goldman Sachs ... does not spend corporate funds directly on electioneering communications."
According to Hernandez, "those communications are generally interpreted to mean advertisements on radio and television broadcasts in the run-up to an election."
Should we assume, then, that Goldman Sachs, which New York magazine called "America's most successful, envied, despised, and (in its view, anyway) misunderstood engine of capitalism," has decided to get out of the political game completely, that it no longer wants to be an influence peddler?
Goldman Sachs "operates political action committees at the state and national levels that could raise money for the purpose of influencing political races," Hernandez reports. "In addition, companies are free to spend money to advocate positions on specific issues, like health care, gun control or financial regulation."