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Goldman Boss Visited White House as Firm Tangled With SEC Over Potential Fraud Case

Goldman Sachs boss Lloyd Blankfein visited the White House at least four times as lawyers for his firm negotiated with the Securities and Exchange Commission over possible civil-fraud charges, according to White House logs obtained by McClatchy Newspapers.

The revelation comes after SEC filed its complaint against Goldman Friday, accusing the firm of defrauding investors by failing to inform them that certain mortgage investments were devised with help from someone who was betting on their failure.

Goldman's ties to the White House are sparking concerns as Washington and Wall Street fight over legislation to reshape regulation of the financial regulatory system and Republicans suggest that Democrats were exploiting the fraud charges to gather momentum for the bill.

The White House logs show that Blankfein, Goldman's chairman and chief executive, traveled to Washington for at least two events with President Obama and also met twice with Obama's top economic adviser, Larry Summers.

Blankfein and Goldman Sachs Chief Operating Officer Gary Cohn also attended the president's speech Thursday on financial regulatory reform at Cooper Union in New York. 

Obama's ties to Goldman can be traced back to 2008 when his presidential campaign received $994,795 in donations from Goldman's political action committee, its employees and their relatives. The donations were the most from any single employer except the University of California.

It's not clear whether Blankfein or any other Goldman executive raised the SEC case with the president or his aides.

SEC Chairwoman Mary Schapiro said in a statement Wednesday that the SEC doesn't "coordinate our enforcement actions with the White House, Congress or political committees. We do not time our cases around political events or the legislative calendar."

"The fact is that regulator reform has been pending for over a year," she said. "We have brought many cases related to the financial crisis over that period."

She added that she was "disappointed by the rhetoric."

A Goldman spokesman told McClatchy that the firm doesn't discuss "what conversations we may or may not have had with government officials."

Rep. Darrell Issa, the top Republican on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee who is investigating whether the SEC's filing was motivated by politics, said the timing of the SEC's filing suggests there could be an "ulterior motive" and that the agency should cooperate with the Republican probe.

Click here to read the McClatchy Newspapers story.