- The Washington Times - Monday, August 31, 2015

Bowing to pressure from liberal activists, Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton on Monday threw her support behind legislation that would close the “revolving door” between Wall Street and the federal government.

Mrs. Clinton co-authored an op-ed with Sen. Tammy Baldwin, Wisconsin Democrat, voicing support for Ms. Baldwin’s bill that would end huge payouts or “golden parachutes” that Wall Street firms lavish on executives who leave to work in the federal government.

“The American people need to be able to trust that every single person in Washington — from the President of the United States all the way down to agency employees — is putting the interests of the people first,” they wrote in The Huffington Post. “We want to do more to make sure that happens.”

“Both of us have a track record of supporting stronger ethics rules. One of us — Tammy — has introduced legislation in the Senate to help close that revolving door. The other of us — Hillary — strongly supports this bill, and as president would crack down on conflicts of interest in government,” they wrote.

Mrs. Clinton was slow to get on board supporting the effort.

Mrs. Clinton’s more liberal rivals for the Democratic nomination, Sen. Bernard Sanders of Vermont and former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, backed the bill early on. And her support came after a coalition of eight liberal groups last week blasted her Wall Street ties and pressed her to take a position on the bill.

The eight groups — including Democracy for America, Rootstrikers and MoveOn.org — in an open letter called on Mrs. Clinton to take a position on legislation, while highlighting her close ties to Wall Street.

The groups noted that when Mrs. Clinton was secretary of state, two of her closest aides came from Wall Street banks and received compensation packages, as well as one of her undersecretaries that received a similar payout from investment giant Goldman Sachs.

“These types of ‘golden parachute’ compensation packages are highly controversial, and for good reason,” the activists wrote. “Corporations generally grant executives bonuses in order to attract and retain talented employees. Awarding outsized bonuses and gifts of equity to Wall Street executives who temporarily leave to go into public service is either a breach of a public corporation’s fiduciary duty to its stockholders, or a down payment on future services rendered.”

The issue underscored the left’s persistent discomfort with Mrs. Clinton as the odds-on favorite to win the nomination.

Liberal firebrand Sen. Elizabeth Warren, the Massachusetts Democrat who is closely tied to all the letter’s signatories, also had urged all the party’s presidential contenders to support the bill.

In the op-ed, Mrs. Clinton and Ms. Baldwin said that the effort to rein in Wall Street should not stop at ending “golden parachutes.”

“We can and should do more — in particular, to restore people’s confidence that the government is holding powerful companies accountable when they commit acts of wrongdoing, whether on Wall Street or anywhere else,” they wrote.

Other measures put forward by the duo included ensuring that when corporations pay fines for breaking the law, the fine also cuts into executive bonuses; bigger rewards for corporate whistleblowers; and prosecuting individual executives — not just Wall Street firms — for wrongdoing.

“At the end of the day, a lot of this is about leadership,” they wrote. “There’s an old saying in government: ‘Personnel is policy.’ Who we hire goes a long way toward determining what we do and how well we do it. We need to make sure those who do the people’s work in Washington are actually doing it — not worrying about former or future bosses at the public’s expense.”

They said these reforms would begin to restore American’s trust in government.

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