Goldman Suit Harnessed by Obama Aides for Web Ads
President Barack Obama’s political advisers are trying to harness the government’s case against Goldman Sachs Group Inc. to build support for a financial- markets overhaul pending in Congress.
A Google Inc. search of “Goldman Sachs SEC” yields an advertisement entitled “Help Change Wall Street” that is sponsored by Organizing for America, Obama’s official political arm outside the White House.
“Help Pres. Obama Reform Wall Street and Create Jobs,” the ad says. “Families First!”
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.
Google AdWords allow companies, advocacy groups and politicians to target Internet browsers who enter certain words or phrases in the company’s search engine. Advertisers pay for the traffic those specific search terms generate.
Goldman Sachs responded with its own Web ad tethered to the same search words -- “Goldman Sachs SEC.”
A search for those three words yesterday afternoon produced both the Obama political ad and a sponsored link to Goldman’s Web site. The link took online readers to the company’s official response to the SEC complaint.
Goldman Sachs Disappointed
“We are disappointed that the SEC would bring this action related to a single transaction in the face of an extensive record which establishes that the accusations are unfounded in law and fact,” the company said in response to the SEC lawsuit. The Web page gives readers background on what happened in the company’s view.
Brad Woodhouse, a spokesman for the Democratic National Committee, said the Obama political ad is part of a two-week-old online campaign “which included a wide variety of search terms related to Wall Street and Wall Street reform.”
“We have all kinds of online advertising up to allow folks who are searching and reading online to get involved with Organizing for America and the president and make a difference on his agenda,” Woodhouse said in an e-mail. “We’ve been running online ads since early last year. We watch closely what terms folks are searching and set our ads accordingly.”
The ad link takes browsers to a page on my.barackobama.com that features a picture of the president and the following quote: “We’ve seen and lived the consequences of what happens when there’s too little accountability on Wall Street and too little protection for Main Street. It is time for real change.
This online campaign coincides with a renewed push by the president and his allies both on and off Capitol Hill to generate support for an overhaul of the country’s financial regulatory structure. A bill before the Senate would establish a consumer protection agency within the government, require financial firms to plan for their own demise and prohibit proprietary trading by commercial banks.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat, said he plans to bring a bill to the floor this week. All 41 Senate Republicans have complicated that timeline by signing a letter to express their opposition to a bill approved by the Banking Committee. Reid needs at least one Republican to start debate on the package.
‘‘I am very confident that we’re going to have the votes for a strong package of financial reforms,” Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said yesterday on NBC’s “Meet the Press” Program. “I’m very confident we’re going to have a strong bill.”
To contact the reporter on this story: Patrick O’Connor in Washington at firstname.lastname@example.org