Wall Street money flows to Obama, McCain

Some of John McCain's and Barack Obama's biggest fundraisers are executives from the stricken financial services industry, which will need all the help it can get from whoever wins the White House.

Merrill Lynch's chief executive, for example, has raised more than $500,000 for McCain's campaign. Obama has received at least $1.5 million collected by three senior executives at Lehman Brothers.

McCain and Obama each are considering how to avoid future collapses and the need for further costly government bailouts, steps that may include tougher banking and investment regulations. But executives from the same companies in the crosshairs of such decisions are helping these candidates get elected.

Obama is promising more regulation, as is McCain, and if the winner of the November election acts on the tough talk, a battle with banks, securities and investment firms and insurance companies could follow.

The tough talk is coming from candidates who have fueled their campaigns with Wall Street money. Securities and investment firms gave $9.9 million to Obama and $6.9 million to McCain through July, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a private group that tracks money spent in politics. The industry is McCain's No. 3 contributor and Obama's No. 4 contributor, according to the center.

Wall Street-based firms were among the most active at “bundling” contributions for the two candidates.

Three executives from Goldman Sachs have raised at least half a million dollars for Obama. That firm is Obama's top source of campaign money overall; its employees have contributed more than $690,000 to his campaign, according to the center.

Merrill Lynch's chief executive, John Thain, has raised more than $500,000 for McCain. Merrill's work force likewise is McCain's top donor, giving nearly $300,000.

Separately, employees from the commercial bank and insurance sectors gave McCain's campaign $3.6 million and Obama's campaign $3.4 million.

So, how can candidates who accept money from Wall Street be expected to crack down on it?

Congress collects considerable money from Wall Street, too. Democratic candidates have accepted nearly $37 million from securities and investment firms in the current election, and Republicans have accepted nearly $29 million.