In February, Pete Buttigieg stepped into the Manhattan office of Wall Street veteran Charles Myers to talk politics over deli sandwiches. Citigroup Inc. Managing Director Yann Coatanlem hosted a fundraiser in March for Kamala Harris at his Fifth Avenue apartment, where she shook the paw of the banker’s labradoodle. Three days later, former Goldman Sachs Group Inc. partner Bruce Heyman raised more than $100,000 for Amy Klobuchar at his home in Chicago. He’s planning an event for Joe Biden this fall.
The mayor of South Bend, Ind., the senators from California and Minnesota, and the ex-vice president are among the Democratic presidential candidates disavowing corporate cash, lobbyist checks, or the super PAC system. They’re trying to outdo each other with promises to finance their campaigns with grassroots contributions. But while they play down the role of money and influence, longtime Wall Street donors who have both say little has changed. “I’ve talked to about half of them, and I have not run into a single one who said, ‘Hey, you worked at Goldman Sachs, I can’t take your money,’ ” says Heyman, who helped elect Barack Obama by collecting checks from friends and later became his ambassador to Canada. “I’ve not heard that—ever.”
Wall Street has long been a deep well from which presidential candidates draw hundreds of millions of dollars for advertising, travel, and staff. As the