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Monday, August 31, 2015

The Left Bank

Nicholas Confessore reports at The New York Times:
When Ready for Hillary, a pro-Hillary Rodham Clintonsuper PAC,” wanted to take out a million-dollar loan five months before it planned to go out of business, it turned to a bank that was founded to guard the savings of New York City garment workers.
When the Democracy Alliance, an influential club of liberal donors, sought to recruit members in advance of the 2016 elections, the bank’s president helped to make introductions.
And when workers-rights groups wanted to embarrass Walmart and the Gap for unsafe working conditions at factories supplying their stores, Amalgamated Bank, which manages $40 billion in pension fund assets, stepped in again, rounding up fellow investors to warn the companies that they

Four years after nearly collapsing amid the financial crisis, Amalgamated has aggressively carved out a position as the left’s private banker, leveraging deep connections with the Democratic establishment to expand rapidly in a niche long dominated by larger but less nimble financial institutions
Founded and still principally owned by labor unions, the 92-year-old bank has signed up hundreds of new political clients, including most of the Democratic Party’s major committees, the progressive organizations that align with them, and several of their top Senate recruits.
This spring, Amalgamated scored its biggest coup yet, winning the main business for Mrs. Clinton’s presidential campaign, which is likely to raise a billion dollars or more.
Campaign clients have access to a 24-hour concierge service, staffed by veterans of President Obama’s campaigns, to handle last-minute media buys or reconcile election paperwork.
But many Republican candidates and super PACs, including Jeb Bush and the deep-pocketed super PAC supporting him, do the bulk of their banking with their own version of Amalgamated, the smaller Chain Bridge Bank, based in McLean, Va. Founded by Peter Fitzgerald, the former Republican senator from Illinois, Chain Bridge broke into political banking amid the 2008 financial crisis when the Republican presidential nominee, Senator John McCain of Arizona, was looking for a safe place to deposit his war chest. He chose it for its Republican pedigree and low-risk balance sheet.