Lloyd Blankfein Plays Dumb on Goldman Sachs Support for Jesse Jackson

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Blankfein photoAt the Goldman Sachs annual meeting on Friday, I had an unplanned exchange with CEO Lloyd Blankfein about Goldman's support of Jesse Jackson, who was at the meeting and kept popping up to speak. Jackson was acting adversarial toward Blankfein, even though Goldman Sachs is one of Jackson’s largest financial supporters.

In hopes of ending this charade, I asked Blankfein to clarify the relationship between Goldman and Jackson as that of donor and recipient. Blankfein said he didn't know if Goldman supported Jackson. I challenged him by asking, "You do not know?" and "You give Jackson's group six-figure sums and you don't know about it?" Blankfein continued to play dumb, so I moved on to address our resolution asking for a report on the science behind Goldman’s embrace of global warming.

Of course, Blankfein is not dumb, just dishonest.

At the end of my remarks, Jackson approached me at the podium, shook my hand, and started speaking again. I stayed at the podium because I thought he would address the issue of his Goldman support. He did not, which I took as confirmation of the support.

In 2007, NLPC sponsored a shareholder proposal asking Goldman Sachs to disclose its charitable contributions and the business rationale for each gift. I spoke for five minutes in support of the resolution, focusing on Goldman’s support for Jackson and his group, the so-called Citizenship Education Fund. Goldman is a longtime sponsor of the Wall Street Project, Jackson’s annual fundraising event in New York City. The Wall Street Project is a project of the Citizenship Education Fund.

From my 2007 remarks:

Let’s consider what Goldman is subsidizing through Jesse Jackson’s organizations. Last April, the Duke rape case grabbed headlines, and soon after Jackson was on the scene. He dismissed suggestions that the accused lacrosse players were entitled to a presumption of innocence, and announced that the Rainbow/PUSH coalition would provide a college scholarship to the accuser. Of course, the stripper’s allegations have fallen apart.

Disclosure of Goldman’s contributions will assist shareholders in knowing exactly where their money is going. The 2007 Wall Street Conference is a project of something called the Citizenship Education Fund (CEF). According to the conference program, Goldman was a sponsor of the event.

Shareholders should be aware that:

  • CEF was the vehicle for payments to Jackson’s mistress for the purchase of a home, in violation of the group’s 501(c) (3) tax status.
  • In 2005, CEF was fined by the Federal Election Commission for illegally coordinating with the Democratic National Committee in the 2000 elections. This partisan activity also violated CEF’s tax status.
  • CEF sponsored a conference in Chicago in 2005 where Nation of Islam Leader Louis Farrakhan was a featured speaker. At the same event, controversial entertainer Harry Belafonte complained that “only a Jew has a right to the word Holocaust.” He went on to call Abraham Foxman, the director of the Anti-Defamation League a “powerful Jew” and a “liar.”

At the same conference in 2006, Jackson called for a boycott of British Petroleum, even though BP was a sponsor of the event, demonstrating that corporations may falsely believe they are buying protection by funding Jackson’s groups.