Hillary Rodham Clinton is pushing an agenda that takes on Wall Street, going after financial investors for focusing too heavily on their own immediate profits. But she's also taking their money, targeting some of those same executives to fund her presidential campaign.
A day after proposing higher capital gains taxes on short-term investors, Clinton raised at least $450,000 July 21 at the Chicago home of Raj (Rajiv) Fernando, a longtime donor, according to an Associated Press report. His firm, Chopper Trading, specializes in high-frequency transactions and was recently purchased by Chicago-based competitor DRW.
Fernando personally gave the family charity between $500,001 and $1 million according to the foundation's contributor list, and his company donated between $100,001 and $250,000.
Fernando has helped raise money in the past, raising more than $500,000 for the President Barack Obama reelection campaign, as well as his firm matching donations made by employees to more than 100 charities. He was appointed to a security advisory board by Obama but later resigned from his post.
The Indian American previously worked in trading positions at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and the Chicago Board of Trade.
Fernando, a graduate of Beloit College in Beloit, Wis., is active in nonprofit and philanthropic organizations, serving on the Foreign Policy Program Leadership Committee at the Brookings Institution and the board of directors for the American Security Project. He is a member of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs and serves on the boards of Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Paws Chicago.
Clinton's summertime fundraising circuit highlights a central tension of her campaign: how to encourage financial executives to open their wallets for her presidential effort even as she comes out with plans aimed at reining multimillion-dollar paychecks. Since her first presidential campaign in 2008, income inequality has become a bigger force in Democratic politics, with liberal voters clamoring for candidates who will take a sharply populist turn and enforce tough new regulations on Wall Street.
The early outlines of Clinton's economic plans have included steps to raise taxes on hedge fund and private equity bonuses, penalize short-term investors with higher tax rates and strengthen penalties for rogue executives who are involved in fraudulent deals on Wall Street. She wants further strengthening of financial regulations put in place after the 2008 financial crisis, the AP reported.
In announcing her economic platform in New York, Clinton called some of the financial institutions led by her top contributors “too complex and too risky.” She said “serious risks are emerging from institutions in the so-called shadow banking system, including hedge funds, high-frequency traders, non-bank finance companies.”
In her first campaign finance report, people who listed occupations in banking, finance, investment, money management, private equity or venture capital contributed more than $1.6 million to Clinton's campaign, according to a review by The Associated Press. The vast majority of those checks were for the maximum legal amount of $2,700.
Following the event in Chicago with Fernando, Clinton was attending a fundraiser July 22 hosted by George Reddin, a North Carolina-based managing director of FMI Capital Advisors who has specialized in mergers and acquisitions in the construction materials industry.
About a dozen of Clinton's top campaign bundlers — donors who have raised at least $100,000 for her presidential bid — work in finance and investing, such as private equity investors Imaad Zuberi and Deven Parekh, and hedge fund managers Marc Lasry and Orin Kramer.
Morgan Stanley vice chairman Tom Nides, who worked for Clinton at the State Department, said the new policies haven't caused any waves on Wall Street and predicted they're unlikely to hamper Clinton's fundraising.
Meanwhile, in related news, an Associated Press analysis shows that donors increasing their stakes in the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation during the first six months of this year included veteran Democratic fundraisers Haim Saban, S. Daniel Abraham and Barbara Streisand, either personally or through their charitable arms. Others include Frank Giustra, a Canadian mining magnate who is one of the top donors to the foundation at more than $25 million, and data entrepreneur Vinod Gupta.