Tim Kaine brings Wall Street fundraising muscle to Clinton campaign

Tim Kaine
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Pundits were quick to point out the benefits Sen. Tim Kaine may bring Hillary Clinton as her running mate in helping win his home-and-battleground state of Virginia.

But what flew under the radar was that Kaine may play a key role in helping Clinton raise money, especially when it comes to Wall Street.

Clinton has proven herself a capable fundraiser, announcing nearly $90 million in contributions for the past month. The former secretary of state is a known quantity with Wall Street as well, having delivered speeches to banks and representing the heart of the financial services industry as a senator from New York.

In the lead-up to Clinton's pick of a running mate, the potential that she might choose Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren — who has made cracking down on banks a centerpiece of her agenda — had Wall Street ready to tighten its pockets for donations.

But with Kaine, Clinton gets a running mate who is not anathema to Wall Street, rather one with a proven history of fundraising from the financial services industry.

Across the board, Kaine has relationships with a variety of industries and is a proven fundraiser. He was inaugurated as Virginia's governor in 2006, and according to the Virginia Public Access Project, he raised more than $15 million over the course of that campaign. Starting in 2009, he served two years as the chair of the Democratic National Committee, where he oversaw national party fundraising. When he ran for a Senate seat in the 2012 election cycle, he raised more than $17 million, according to federal filings.

"You don't win those races without raising money," said former Virginia Democratic Party Chairman C. Richard "Dickie" Cranwell. "There's no question that Tim will bring some fundraising capability to the campaign."

Over the course of Kaine's time in Virginia state-level politics, including his term as lieutenant governor from 2002 to 2006, the financial services industry contributed more than $4 million to Kaine, according to the Virginia Public Access Project.

Some of Kaine's top donors to his statewide races included billionaire investor George Soros, former Goldman Sachs vice president Michael Bills and Berkshire Hathaway portfolio manager Ted Weschler.

As governor, Kaine brings a solid economic record despite taking office just before the Great Recession hit. While in the governor's mansion, Kaine voiced support for a number of pro-business positions including Virginia's "right-to-work" law and eliminating the state's estate tax.

During his Senate campaign in the 2012 cycle, Kaine continued to rake in cash from the financial services industry. He received donations from numerous bankers and financial leaders like then-JPMorgan investment banking chief James E. "Jes" Staley, Highbridge Capital Management co-founder Glenn Dubin, former World Bank and Capital One CFO Gary Perlin and Chairman of Apollo Investment John Hannan, according to federal filings.

In the Senate, Kaine has taken a number of pro-business positions as well, supporting looser regulation for regional banks and voting for fast-track trade authority — though he has since opposed the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal.

That is not to say Kaine does not align with the rest of his party on several key issues as a legislator, and he has a 96 percent lifetime rating from labor federation AFL-CIO and a 91 percent lifetime rating from the environmental group League of Conservation Voters. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce gives Kaine a cumulative 52 percent rating.

And as a potential vice president, Kaine backs Clinton's plan for Wall Street, which would impose certain fees and taxes and expand regulators' authority.

In an email, Kaine spokesperson Amy Dudley wrote that "Sen. Kaine strongly supports Hillary Clinton's tough Wall Street reform plan — the strongest of any candidate — because he believes that Wall Street can never be allowed to wreck Main Street again, and that the measure of our success must be defined by how much incomes rise for hard-working families, not just CEOs and money managers."

Kaine's fundraising prowess with the financial sector has led to some criticism and could provide fodder for more down the road. Republican nominee Donald Trump has tweeted that "Tim Kaine is, and always has been, owned by the banks."

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Of course, fundraising is an important part of a political campaign, but it is not a decisive characteristic in picking a vice presidential nominee. In 1904, the Democrats nominated railroad tycoon and former West Virginia Sen. Henry Davis as the party's vice presidential candidate, attracted by deep pockets the party hoped could help fund the presidential campaign.

Since then, vice presidential nominees have become more about the political gain they offer the top of the ticket during a campaign, and their ability to govern if elected. But one of the leading vice presidential scholars, St. Louis University professor Joel Goldstein, said that fundraising assistance does come along with the nomination.

"Part of the campaign activity is to participate in fundraising," Goldstein said. "Once you are picked, it's an expectation that if you have access, that you'll use it, and of course you have an incentive to use it."