Credo Action

Tell President Obama: Ban golden parachutes for Wall Street executives for the rest of your term

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Petition to President Obama:

"Require new administration officials coming from the financial industry to forego compensation offered by their former employers in exchange for their decisions to enter into public service."

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    Tell President Obama: Ban golden parachutes for Wall Street executives for the rest of your term

    Sen. Elizabeth Warren calls golden parachutes for Wall Street executives who enter public service “paying people off to remember their Wall Street friends while they run our government” – and it is a huge problem in the Obama administration.1

    When Treasury Secretary Jack Lew left Citigroup for the Obama administration in 2009, his contract with the megabank guaranteed him a $1 million bonus for entering government.2 Banker Antonio Weiss withdrew from consideration for one Treasury Department job under pressure from CREDO members after it came out that he would receive a $21 million bonus.3 The list of former Wall Street executives in high-ranking administration positions goes on and on.

    President Obama does not need to wait on Congress to pass legislation cracking down on the revolving door. He can set a precedent for his successor – and shore up his own leaky legacy on Wall Street – by demanding that any new administration officials for the rest of his term give up any sort of bonus from the financial industry.

    Tell President Obama: Ban golden parachutes for Wall Street executives for the rest of your term.

    Almost 114,000 CREDO members have called on Congress to pass Sen. Tammy Baldwin and Rep. Elijah Cummings’ “Financial Services Conflict of Interest Act” which would make golden parachutes for government service illegal under federal bribery laws.4 Three Democratic presidential candidates – Sec. Clinton, Sen. Sanders, and Gov. O’Malley – have endorsed the bill.5 Even the conservative Wall Street Journal editorial board believes the practice should be outlawed.6

    President Obama knows he does not need to wait on Congress to pass the Baldwin-Cummings bill – because he has asked officials to refuse bonuses in the past. In 2009, at the height of voter anger over Wall Street fraud and the bailouts, the White House encouraged officials joining the administration from big banks to forego any bonuses.7

    Right now, there are open seats on the Securities and Exchange Commission, Commodities Futures Trading Commission, and at other crucial agencies that serve as watchdogs to protect Americans from the financial industry. We can’t let the administration fill these spots with bankers receiving massive bonuses, and blame Congress. On issue after issue, President Obama has declared, “If Congress won’t act, I will.”8 It is up to us to hold him to his word.

    Tell President Obama: Ban golden parachutes for Wall Street executives for the rest of your term.

    All over the government, former Wall Street employees fill important positions, bringing with them a biased worldview and the ability for their former co-workers to influence them with a well-placed phone call. Countless more treat Wall Street with kid gloves to preserve the possibility of cashing in on a job in the future, or leave government and use their connections and expertise on behalf of their new employees.9

    The head of the Treasury Department and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative are both former Citigroup employees.10 Securities and Exchange Chair Mary Jo White’s new chief of staff is a former Goldman Sachs lawyer.11 Attorney General Eric Holder just recently returned to his old corporate law firm under a cloud of questions about the firm holding an office for him before he left the government.12 The list could go on and on.

    It is long past time to crack down on the legalized bribery of golden parachutes. We need to raise our voices and demand that President Obama act.

    Tell President Obama: Ban golden parachutes for Wall Street executives for the rest of your term.

    Thank you for speaking out.

    1. Jenna McLaughlin, “Elizabeth Warren Pushes To Slow Revolving Door Between Business and Government,” The Intercept, July 17, 2015.
    2. Lee Fang, “The Reverse Revolving Door: How Corporate Insiders Are Rewarded Upon Leaving Firms for Congress,” The Nation, May 4, 2013.
    3. Chris Frates, “Want $20 million to work for the government? Just quit a Wall Street job first,”, December 4, 2014.
    4. Tell Congress: Fight the Wall Street revolving door,” CREDO Action.
    5. Jonathan Allen, “Hillary Clinton supports ban on 'revolving door' corporate bonuses,” Reuters, August 31, 2015.
    6. Jack Lew's Golden Parachute,” Wall Street Journal Review & Outlook, February 26, 2013.
    7. Monica Langley, “Obama Dials Down Wall Street Criticism,” Wall Street Journal, March 24, 2009.
    8. Josh Marks, “Obama: If Congress Doesn’t Act on Climate Change, ‘I Will’,” The National Memo, February 13, 2013.
    9. Jessica Schieder, “Throwing a Wrench in the Revolving Door,” Center for Effective Goverment, July 24, 2015.
    10. Lisa Gilbert, “Reforming the financial services revolving door,” The Hill, July 15, 2015.
    11. David Michaels, “Goldman’s Donohue to Become SEC Chair White’s Chief of Staff,” Bloomberg, May 28, 2015.
    12. David Dayen, “Why Eric Holder’s new job is an insult to the American public,”, July 7, 2015.