Democratic presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard couldn’t be more emphatic: Her fledgling campaign, she told Fox News Channel on Friday, is all about “putting the interests and well-being of the American people first and foremost, ahead of partisan interests, ahead of corporate interests.” She says she won’t accept PAC or lobbyist money and that her “movement is 100 percent people-powered.”
No one doubts the former Iraq war veteran and current Hawaii congresswoman’s sincerity in fashioning a campaign directed at working-class Americans. But what she left out is that privately some of the most important people powering her presidential effort come not just from Main Street but also from Wall Street—one of the targets of the party’s populist ire following the 2008 financial crisis, FOX Business has learned.
In recent weeks, Gabbard has been meeting with financial types to raise money for her campaign, and has scheduled a fundraiser sponsored by Wall Street executives to take place the first week in June, according to an invitation reviewed by FOX Business.
Gabbard is far from alone or even the worst offender among liberal candidates looking to have it both ways. Democrats running for president like to play the class-warfare card claiming they won’t take money from special interests as they bash the rich over income inequality or the dangers of capitalism.
But that hasn’t stopped them from flooding Wall Street with fundraising requests as the 2020 primaries heat up. Case in point: Pete Buttigieg, Mayor from South Bend, and a darling of the Democratic left, recently sought and accepted a minimum of $2,800 per person at a fundraiser Wednesday in New York heavily attended by financial executives, FOX Business has learned.
In fact, Wall Street executives say every major 2020 Democratic presidential candidate except for extreme far-left types like Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders have been busy dialing for Wall Street dollars in recent weeks. These executives say big money fundraisers for Democratic candidates looking for campaign cash will grow more intense in June as the crowded field of contenders attempt to separate themselves from the pack just before the first debates take place this summer.
“It’s the great con job,” said Hank Sheinkopf, a veteran Democratic political consultant. “Democrats and Republicans get their money from the same places including from Wall Street and when in office they serve the same people including those on Wall Street.”
Gabbard was an early supporter of Sanders, an avowed socialist for the 2016 Democratic nomination. In early May, she made her debut in the finance space as she spoke at the SALT Conference, a Las Vegas hedge-fund palooza run by Anthony Scaramucci’s Skybridge Capital. Her June fundraiser is expected to attract an A-list of financiers as it touts her service as a U.S. Army veteran deployed during the Iraq War who will “take the trillions of dollars spent on war and invest in health care, education, protecting our environment and rebuilding our infrastructure,” the invitation states.
Wall Street firms would reap huge profits by underwriting various forms of debt to finance an infrastructure plan that Gabbard envisions.
Gabbard is polling just about 1 percent nationally, while the current frontrunner, former Vice President Joe Biden will make his 2020 NYC fundraiser debut in June at an event that will be hosted by legendary hedge fund investor Jim Chanos, the founder of Kynikos Associates, FOX Business has learned. Invites are scheduled to be mailed out next week and will likely be sent to many Wall Street executives, according to people with knowledge of the matter.
Chanos is best known for discovering the Enron scandal and more recently calling attention to ongoing Tesla financial woes as a short-seller whose profits rise when stocks fall. He has a long, personal friendship with Biden, who unlike the other candidates, is running as a moderate and hasn’t indulged in the class-warfare rhetoric of his rivals. Biden is expected to tap more financial sources for funding as the campaign progresses, Wall Street executives say.
Buttigieg, also known as Mayor Pete, seamlessly mingled with potential financial types at his Wednesday fundraiser, even though the growing wealth inequality is a key focus of his campaign. According to people who were present, the event likely raised tens of thousands of dollars. Like other Democrats, he also stated he won’t take PAC money despite his apparent affinity for New York’s financial elite.
Bankers and businessman are certainly appreciative of Democratic presidential hopefuls coming to kiss their ring. Given the lofty levels of the stock market and New York City real estate prices, there is no shortage of fat-cats willing to donate the maximum $2,800 to pay for access to candidates who might take on Trump during the 2020 general election.
Spokesmen for Biden, Gabbard, and Buttigieg didn’t return calls for comment.