NEW YORK — The nation's largest investment bank is barring its top employees from contributing to certain political campaigns _ including Donald Trump's White House bid.
The new rules, which went into effect last week, prohibit partners at Goldman Sachs from donating to politicians running for state or local office, or to state officials who are seeking federal office. That applies to Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, Trump's running mate, which means that the Goldman Sachs partners can't contribute to the Republican ticket.
The policy, which was spelled out in a memo obtained by The Associated Press on Wednesday, is meant to remove any implication of a "pay for play'' scandal. Four years ago, the bank paid $12 million to settle charges that a Boston-based banker had a bond underwriting business in the state while contributing funds to and working for the campaign of Massachusetts gubernatorial candidate Tim Cahill.
A sign is displayed in the reception of the Sydney offices of Goldman Sachs in Australia, May 18, 2016. (Photo: David Gray/Reuters)
The memo specifically highlights the Trump-Pence ticket — and Super PACs supporting the Republicans — as a campaign to which the partners at the New York-based firm can't donate. But the rules do not apply to the Democratic ticket, since neither Hillary Clinton nor her running mate, Sen. Tim Kaine, are currently state officeholders, though Kaine is a former governor.
A spokeswoman for Trump did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Many Goldman employees are not impacted by the new rule: only 467 of the bank's 30,000-plus employees around the globe are partners. But many of those partners tend to be extremely wealthy. And both campaigns' finance directors — Steven Mnuchin for Trump and Gary Gensler for Clinton — are former Goldman employees who may be inclined to turn to their ex-colleagues for donations.
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump and running mate Mike Pence. (Photo: Steve Pope/Getty Images)
"The policy change is meant to minimize potential reputational damage caused by any false perception that the firm is attempting to circumvent pay-to-play rules, particularly given partners' seniority and visibility,'' the memo reads. "All failures to pre-clear political activities as outlined below are taken seriously and violations may result in disciplinary action.''
A request for further comment from Goldman Sachs was not immediately returned. The new policy was first reported by Politico.
The Securities Exchange Commission tightened pay-to-play rules in 2010 and Goldman had previously instituted a similar prohibition barring any employee who manages a pension fund for them from making political contributions since they often deal with local officials.
Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton arrives with her running mate Tim Kaine at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport on Sept. 5, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images)
In 2013, soon after leaving the State Department, Clinton delivered three paid speeches to Goldman Sachs. Her political foes, including Trump, have called for her to release the transcripts of those speeches but she has declined.
Clinton hauled in $143 million in August for her presidential bid and the Democratic party, her best fundraising month yet. Trump, who raised more than $80 for his campaign and party in July, is expected to announce his August totals this week.