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Goldman Sachs Is Said to Be in Talks to Hire Former Geithner Aide Siewert

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS) may hire Richard “Jake” Siewert Jr., a former counselor to U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner, to manage the bank’s communications department, according to three people familiar with the situation.

Siewert, who turns 48 today, is in talks about a role similar to the one held by Lucas van Praag, 62, who has worked at Goldman Sachs for 12 years, said the people, who asked for anonymity because the talks aren’t public and an agreement hasn’t been reached. Siewert worked as a press secretary for President Bill Clinton and managed corporate development and public strategy at Alcoa Inc. (AA) before joining Treasury in 2009.

Goldman Sachs, the most profitable securities firm in Wall Street history before converting to a bank in 2008, has been criticized by regulators and politicians for activities leading up to 2008’s financial crisis. Chief Executive Officer Lloyd C. Blankfein, 57, settled a Securities and Exchange Commission lawsuit against the firm in 2010, reviewed the company’s business standards and rolled out an advertising campaign.

Hiring Siewert may help bolster Goldman Sachs’s links with the Democratic Party in the U.S., which controls the Senate and the White House under President Barack Obama. Obama will face a Republican challenger in an election in November. Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, 64, is locked in a primary contest with former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, 68, and two other candidates for that party’s nomination.

Donations to Romney

Goldman Sachs employees have donated at least $367,200 to Romney’s campaign in the 2012 election cycle so far, more than workers at any other company, according to the Center for Responsive Politics’s donation-tracking website, opensecrets.org. Obama, who has called for higher taxes on the wealthy and stricter regulation of the financial industry, got $50,124 from Goldman Sachs workers during the same period, the data show.

Four years ago, employees of New York-based Goldman Sachs gave $1.01 million to Obama’s presidential campaign, according to the website.

Goldman Sachs set aside enough money to pay each of its 33,300 employees an average of $367,057 in salary, bonuses and benefits for 2011, according to the company’s 2011 financial statement published on Jan. 18. A decline in trading revenue helped drive down the average payout per worker from $430,700 in 2010.

Van Praag, Goldman Sachs’s global head of corporate communications, has become known for his disparaging rebuttals to negative stories about the firm, favoring phrases like “nonsense” and “extraordinarily ill-informed.” He was elected in 2006 to become a partner, the highest rank of employee at the Goldman Sachs. He paid $7.85 million in August 2008 for a townhouse on New York’s Upper West Side, the Real Deal reported at the time, citing public records.

To contact the reporters on this story: Cristina Alesci in New York at calesci2@bloomberg.net; Christine Harper in New York at charper@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: David Scheer at dscheer@bloomberg.net.

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