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A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

Clinton’s Exaggerated Wall Street Claim

Hillary Clinton exaggerated when she claimed Bernie Sanders “took about $200,000 from Wall Street firms” through the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. The DSCC did provide about $200,000 to support Sanders’ 2006 Senate race, but a relatively small percentage of the DSCC’s contributions came from “Wall Street.”

In fact, the DSCC’s largest single contributor that year was Friends of Hillary — which was Clinton’s Senate campaign.

Clinton has been criticized by Sanders for accepting large donations and speaking fees from financial companies. In response, Clinton has said the donations have not influenced her decisions — which was the point she made at an event at Manchester Community College in New Hampshire a day before that state’s primary (see the 45:40 mark):

Clinton, Feb. 8: Senator Sanders took about $200,000 from Wall Street firms. Not directly but through the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee. You know, there was nothing wrong with that. It hasn’t changed his view. Well, it didn’t change my view or my vote either.

The DSCC did support Sanders, as Clinton says. In 2006, then Rep. Sanders defeated Republican Richard Tarrant to win the U.S. Senate seat vacated by the retiring Sen. Jim Jeffords of Vermont. Although he ran as an independent, Sanders was backed by the state Democratic Party and supported by both the state and national Democratic committees.

During the 2006 campaign, the DSCC gave $37,300 to the Sanders campaign and spent an additional $60,000 supporting him in campaign advertising. It also gave $110,000 to the Vermont Democratic Party to help Sanders, making eight separate committee transfers (the last coming on Oct. 4, 2006).

That adds up to $207,300 — a little more than the $200,000 claimed by Clinton.

However, Wall Street of course wasn’t the sole source of the DSCC’s money in 2006. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, the DSCC raised $121.4 million in the 2006 campaign cycle and roughly $10 million of that came from what the center defines as “Wall Street.” (That would include donations from the political action committees and employees of companies in two industries: securities and investment, and commercial banks.) That’s a little more than 8 percent in Wall Street money.

Clearly, Clinton’s assertion that Sanders “took about $200,000 from Wall Street” is an exaggeration.

In fact, the DSCC received $2 million in 2006 from Friends of Hillary in two $1 million donations. That made Clinton’s Senate campaign committee the single largest contributor to the DSCC for the 2006 campaign. Goldman Sachs ranked fifth at $685,050.

By Clinton’s logic, Sanders “took about $200,000” from Friends of Hillary.