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Wow, things really escalated quickly.

Friday, April 16

The Securities and Exchange Commission charged Goldman, Sachs & Co. and one of its vice presidents for defrauding investors. [kick off]

POLITICO’s Marty Kady questions the timing of the SEC’s charges [Twitter]

Convenient timing: Huge SEC charges against Goldman land week before Senate takes up Wall St reform bill.

At 10:38 a.m. The New York Times breaks the news of the SEC’s charges.

The New York Times: SEC Sues Goldman Over Housing Market Deal

28 minutes later after the The New York Times broke the news, Organizing for America, a project of the Democratic National Committee, emailed millions of people an email from President Obama asking for their help passing financial reform.

FROM: Barack Obama
DATE: Friday, April 16, 2010, 11:07 AM
SUBJECT: Wall Street Reform

With so much at stake, it is not surprising that allies of the big banks and Wall Street lenders have already launched a multi-million-dollar ad campaign to fight these changes. Arm-twisting lobbyists are already storming Capitol Hill, seeking to undermine the strong bipartisan foundation of reform with loopholes and exemptions for the most egregious abusers of consumers.

I won’t accept anything short of the full protection that our citizens deserve and our economy needs. It’s a fight worth having, and it is a fight we can win — if we stand up and speak out together.

So I’m asking you to join me, starting today, by adding your name as a strong supporter of Wall Street


Thank you,
President Barack Obama

NY Times got the scoop: Almost immediately, The New York Times had a 1,200+ word article cued up and online.

NY Times: S.E.C. Accuses Goldman of Fraud in Housing Deal

We’re still on Friday …

The Hill’s Alexander Bolton sets the stage.

The Hill: Goldman Sachs charged with fraud, setting stage for fiery reform debate

The charges against the prominent Wall Street bank set the stage for debate over financial regulatory reform that is expected to begin in the Senate next week.

House Republican Leader John Boehner’s press office pointed out that Goldman was Obama’s top Wall Street contributor during the 2008 election cycle

Goldman Sachs was President Obama’s top Wall Street contributor during the 2008 election cycle, donating nearly $1 million to his campaign.

At 2:17 p.m. Bloomberg News reporter Mike Dorning notes the reaction of White House economic adviser Lawrence Summers after he was informed of the SEC’s action.

Bloomberg News: Summers Says Financial Overhaul Likely to Be Passed by June

Minutes after the interview ended, as Summers walked down a hallway, an aide informed him that Goldman Sachs Group Inc. had just been sued by the Securities and Exchange Commission for fraud in connection with a financial product tied to subprime mortgages.

Someone suggested the news would make it more difficult for banks to lobby against financial-regulatory legislation. Summers simply smiled.

At 3:38 p.m. POLITICO’s Eamon Javers says the SEC’s charges were unexpected:

President Barack Obama’s push for financial regulatory reform got an unexpected boost from the Securities and Exchange Commission on Friday, as the Wall Street regulator charged Goldman, Sachs & Co and a vice president of the investment bank with defrauding investors.

Javers also mentions that President Obama had previously scheduled a meeting of his economic advisers:

Speaking at a previously scheduled meeting of economic advisers Friday, Obama pressed for passage of the measure. “It’s time that we demanded accountability from Wall Street and protection of consumers,” he said. “Every member of Congress has to make a decision — are they going to side with the special interests and the status quo or are they going to side with the American people?”

Wall Street is more than a little suspicious of today’s charges by the Securities and Exchange Commission, which has accused Goldman Sachs of lying to investors about who was really behind junk mortgages securities it sold to clients.

By Friday’s closing, Goldman Sach’s stock price dropped 23.57 points (12.79%)

Saturday, April 17

POLITICO’s Mike Allen scoops that the  Democratic National Committee had Google Word Ads for “Goldman Sachs SEC” working by 4 pm on Friday. The link takes readers to a DNC ad in support of Obama’s Wall Street Reform [screengrab]. When did the DNC purchase the Google ad?

POLITICO: Goldman is Democrats’ new target

When you type “Goldman Sachs SEC” into Google, the results include an ad for Wall Street reform, paid for by the Democratic National Committee.

With the White House amping up its push for tighter regulations of banks, a financial-services industry lobbyist called the ad buy “the Chicagoland equivalent of a horse head in your bed.”

Under the Google AdWords program, advertisers can bid to have a message displayed next to the search results for specific queries, then pay based on the number of times the ad is clicked.

“Fight Wall Street Greed: Help Pres. Obama Reform Wall Street and Create Jobs. Families First!” says the DNC ad.

Was there any collusion between the SEC and the Democratic Party?

Kurt Bardella was working Saturday:

Rep. Darrell Issa of California, the top Republican on the House Committee on Oversight and Government, said in an e-mail: “It must be nice for the Democrats that the SEC’s filing against Goldman Sachs so conveniently fits into their political agenda. But at the end of the day, all the theatrics and tactics in the world will not successfully divert the American people’s attention away from the inescapable fact that the very people the Democrats are trying to blame for main street’s problems are the same people that they gave a blank check to when they bailed them out with hundreds of billions of taxpayers’ dollars.”

Mike Allen included a Barclays Capital analyst report from Friday that also questioned the timing:

Barclays Capital analysts wrote in a research report Friday: “Today’s SEC announcement and conference call (which did not allow analysts or investors to ask questions) was a well-timed, and perhaps not coincidental, effort to sway some on-the-fence Republicans to support a tougher financials bill that the White House has been lobbying for. Targeting GS, given the flurry of anti-Wall Street press  hat has centered around that firm offers the publicity that the administration needs at this critical juncture.”

More Saturday news (does Chris Frates work every weekend?):

POLITICO: Banks will accept new consumer agency

President Obama stayed on the attack.

Reuters: Obama pushes bank reform, lashes out at Republicans

Sunday, April 18

The DNC web team worked all weekend.

When you search Patrick O’Connor’s latest article on the SEC lawsuit, the Google key word ads take you directly to:

Help Change Wall Street: www.BarackObama.com It’s Time for Financial Reform that Protects Main Street. Act Now!

O’Connors work ties together the SEC’s lawsuit and the DNC’s online advertising campaign:

The ad coincides with the Securities and Exchange Commission lawsuit filed April 16 against Goldman Sachs and a company executive. The civil suit became public as the election- year fight over financial regulatory reform intensifies.

And the campaign is off:

Fox News: Obama to Launch Public Campaign for Wall Street Crackdown

Officials said Sunday that the president plans to embark on a series of outside-the-Beltway rallies and town hall events where he will press for financial regulatory reform and turn up the heat on Senate Republicans — reprising the administration’s game plan from the health care debate.

We’ve got a long week ahead of us.

Get your popcorn.

Monday, April 19

Don’t call it a comeback.

Politico: Spitzer: Goldman suit no coincidence

“This was not a coincidence,” asserted the former Democratic governor, who resigned after an affair with a prostitute became public. “There are no coincidences in this world. None.”

“It could be both a witch hunt and legitimate exercise of regulatory authority,” he added.

Jon Ward monitored the Robert Gibbs swat down on the collusion rumors.

Daily Caller: White House says Goldman Sachs suit not politically motivated, but definitely helpful

Yet Gibbs also said the suit, which accused Goldman of deceiving investors about a financial instrument, is “a prescient reminder of what’s at stake.”

When asked whether the White House approves of the Democratic National Committee buying ads online to capitalize on the Goldman case, Gibbs declined to comment.

Meanwhile, Dodd’s financial reform bill is still progressing in the Senate.


Banks are combing Chris Dodd’s Wall Street reform bill looking for holes they drive their clients through. One K Streeter sends HuffPost’s Arthur Delaney over five pages worth that they’ve identified. If you’re designated as a Farm Credit System, say, you’re exempt from systemic risk regulation, don’t have to keep skin in the game when selling securitized bundles of garbage and won’t be overseen by the Consumer Financial Protection Agency. That and other cleverness here: http://bit.ly/9RRHqX

“Obtaining a carveout isn’t rocket science,” a Republican financial services lobbyist tells HuffPost Hill. “Just give Chairman Dodd and Chuck Schumer a shitload of money.”

And Matt Drudge never misses a chance to match up a headline with an interesting wire photo.

That was Monday. The jury is still out on the DNC’s ad buy timing.

The White House denies any collusion with the SEC’s lawsuit.

And Goldman’s earnings are out Tuesday.

Tuesday, April 20

Things are heating up.

Daily Finance: Goldman Sachs Earnings Double to $3.5 Billion as Firm Faces SEC Suit

Embattled Goldman Sachs (GS) said Tuesday that thanks to its trading and investing prowess, its first-quarter profit doubled to $3.5 billion, easily beating analysts’ expectations.
Matt Drudge is still dialed in.

“Stop, step away from the collusion”

Fox News: Republicans Send Letter to SEC Questioning Timing of Goldman Sachs Lawsuit

Republicans sent a letter to the Securities and Exchange Commission Tuesday suggesting the agency’s civil lawsuit against financial giant Goldman Sachs has created “serious questions” about the SEC’s “independence and impartiality.”

In a letter penned to the SEC on Tuesday, Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., and eight others wondered whether politics have “unduly influenced” the decision to file the complaint, which comes as Senate Democrats push this week for a vote on a major overhaul of financial regulations.

New York Magazine: Wait: Might the SEC Have Had Some Ulterior Motive in Suing Goldman?

Now that the initial excitement has died down a little bit and a closer look at the SEC’s complaint against Goldman Sachs has been taken, some have started wondering about the party on the other side of this transaction. Other than the pursuit of justice for all the little people, what motives might the SEC have had in filing a big, public lawsuit against Goldman Sachs?

Zachary Goldfarb drives the markets.

WaPo: SEC sued Goldman Sachs to break an impasse

For months, Goldman Sachs and the Securities and Exchange Commission had been involved in secret talks over allegations that the Wall Street bank defrauded customers in selling them investments designed to fail.

Then, after a crucial meeting last month between lawyers for Goldman and the SEC, the agency came to a fork in the road. Even after SEC lawyers had told Goldman in writing they were prepared to file a federal suit, the firm gave no ground, declining to ask for a settlement, according to three people familiar with the case. The agency could prolong negotiations in hopes of reaching a deal Goldman would accept, as the SEC had often done in previous cases, or take the bank to court.

Endorsing the recommendation of investigators, the SEC’s five-member commission voted 3 to 2 to proceed with the civil suit, taking a high-stakes gamble that pits Wall Street’s top regulator against its most storied bank. The case, filed Friday, has provoked a counteroffensive from Goldman, which says it was blindsided by the suit. Goldman’s defenders are suggesting that the suit may have been designed to help make the case for the Obama administration’s push this month for legislation to overhaul financial regulation.

Get your popcorn.

Wednesday, April 21

CNBC’s Steve Liesman and Jeff Cox explore the SEC’s case against Goldman

CNBC: Testimony Could Undercut SEC Charge Against Goldman

The testimony of a former Paulson & Co official could undercut the Securities and Exchange Commission’s fraud case against Goldman Sachs, CNBC has learned.

Former SEC Chairman Harvey Pitt says the SEC can’t afford to lose this one.

The Daily Beast: The SEC’s Dangerous Gamble

The SEC’s recent action against Goldman Sachs gives new meaning to the expression “betting the farm.” That phrase signifies actions accompanied by huge risk, especially financial. In litigation, the expression references risks for one party to civil litigation, most frequently the defendant. It suggests a party risks losing everything if it gambles and follows a path to its logical conclusion. The expression rarely references plaintiffs, and certainly not government-plaintiffs litigating against regulated entities.

Zachary Goldfarb is all over this like a cheap suit

WaPo: SEC’s Schapiro rejects claims that Democrats’ agenda spurred Goldman case

Saying she was “disappointed by the rhetoric,” the chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission on Wednesday forcefully rejected Republican lawmakers’ claims that the agency filed its fraud suit against Goldman Sachs in an effort to support the work of the White House and congressional Democrats seeking to pass an overhaul of financial regulation.

The $994, 795 bank shot

CNBC’s John Harwood: Obama ‘Categorically’ Denies Influence in SEC’s Goldman Case

“We are not Johnny-come-latelies to this issue,” said Obama. He said he has been pushing for financial reform for the past three years.


Google says its hands are clean

CNN: Google backs up DNC after GOP claims of Goldman conspiracy

Rep. Darrell Issa, R-California, the ranking member of House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, sent a letter to the chairman of the SEC on Tuesday pointing out the timing of the ad buy, which he said “neatly coincided” with the Goldman charges.

Google is now saying that’s not the case.

The SEC charges hit Goldman before 11 a.m. ET on Friday morning.

The DNC said the Adwords were bid on at 2 p.m. on Friday. Google confirmed the DNC’s timing of the purchase to CNN on Wednesday.

Not surprisingly, the DNC trumpeted the news.

Tom Bevan has seen enough.

Real Clear Politics: Pundits Agree: Timing of SEC Suit is Political

It’s especially rare these days to see pundits from across the political spectrum agree on much of anything. One thing they do agree on, however, is that timing of the SEC’s lawsuit against Goldman Sachs is utterly and transparently political -and most also agree that the suit appears to be very weak on the merits. Here’s a small sampling from across the pundit spectrum:

Friday, April 23

It has been exactly one week since the SEC filed charges against Goldman Sachs.

And now this is what we’re talking about:

WaPo’s Ed O’Keefe: SEC porn investigation nets dozens

Dallas Lawrence peaks behind the curtain

Forbes: Obama Fights Goldman With Social Media

For a peak behind the curtain at the White House’s efforts to focus voter frustration on Wall Street’s woes, you need only turn to Google, where the administration has unleashed a multi-week search engine marketing (SEM) campaign designed to funnel information seekers to the “Organizing for America” website. That site is the former organizational hub for the famously successful “mybarackobama.com” campaign, which many credit with propelling the candidate’s meteoric rise to win the presidency.

For much of the last month, Obama’s digital team has engaged in a paid advertising effort that targets a variety of key search terms–such as “Goldman SEC”–on the leading search engine, and it has integrated that paid SEM initiative with numerous online campaign tactics. In fact, given the millions of online relationships the Obama administration established during the campaign, the White House’s “earned” social media efforts might just outpace its paid efforts on Google.

Coordinated pushes to the president’s more than 8 million followers on Facebook are urging the faithful to “ensure that taxpayers will never again be forced to bail out big banks.” President Obama’s verified Twitter profile has joined the rallying cry as well, calling on more than 3 million followers to “hold the big banks accountable to the people they serve.” All the while, the White House is leveraging the viral nature of these platforms to turn its true believers into digital-messaging echo chambers that can potentially grow its base of support exponentially.

Monday, April 26

What a Ride!

Let’s review:

We’ve gone from a Friday SEC lawsuit against Goldman Sachs,

SEC Charges Goldman Sachs With Fraud in Structuring and Marketing of CDO Tied to Subprime Mortgages

a questionable DNC ad buy on Google hours after the SEC’s action,

POLITICO’s Mike Allen: When you type “Goldman Sachs SEC” into Google, the results include an ad for Wall Street reform, paid for by the Democratic National Committee.

a national conversation on the amount time spent surfing porn at the SEC,

A senior attorney at the SEC’s Washington headquarters spent up to eight hours a day looking at and downloading pornography. When he ran out of hard drive space, he burned the files to CDs or DVDs, which he kept in boxes around his office. He agreed to resign, an earlier watchdog report said.

we all witnessed a coordinated social media attack,

Forbes: Obama Fights Goldman With Social Media

we met a trader named “Fab” (seriously)

You can’t make this stuff up — from the school-girl-diary triple exclamation points to Tourre’s seeming admission that even he did not understand the complexities of the “monstrosities” that he was peddling. But what lingers in memory and adds a human element to the scandal was Fabrice Tourre, then in his late 20s, billing himself as the “fabulous Fab.” No phrase better conveys the arrogance and grandiosity of youthful Wall Street hotshots out to play the world for suckers in their quest for eight-digit annual incomes.

and all of this madness led Saturday Night Live.

Get your popcorn.