WASHINGTON--On May 3, 2007, Barack Obama attended an event at the Museum of Modern Art in Manhattan that was not on his public schedule and is only now surfacing--a private dinner for Goldman Sachs traders with a discussion on issues moderated for the Wall Street firm by NBC's Tom Brokaw.
Brokaw is the moderator of Tuesday's second presidential debate between Obama and John McCain at Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn.
The dinner was not a fund-raiser for Obama, then in the early stages of his Democratic primary campaign launched February, 2007. Brokaw interviewed Obama for about 45 minutes on mostly international issues. Brokaw received an honorarium, donated to charity. The Obama campaign called the event a "moderated conversation" when I inquired on Monday.
Brokaw's appearance was arranged through Goldman Sachs--not the Obama campaign. It was the only session Brokaw did for Goldman. Brokaw's honorarium was given to a charity.
The employees of Goldman Sachs collectively would go on to become the top contributors to the Obama campaign.
Bundled together, by Sept. 28, 2008, the latest figures available, Goldman Sachs members or their families contributed $739,521 to Obama, making the firm number one source of donors to the Obama campaign, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. To be clear--Goldman Sachs did not make any contributions (that's not allowed by federal law)-- the money was from individuals connected to the firm. The CRP analysis is of contributions of $200 and more.
The sum does not include money raised by two major Obama fund-raisers: Bruce Heyman, an executive at the firm and James Johnson, a Goldman Sachs board member and former chairman and CEO of Fannie Mae, the failed mortgage giant in the news because of the subprime mortgage crisis that led to the economic collapse.
Johnson was originally tapped by Obama to lead his vice presidential vetting squad until he quit because of his own controversies.
An April 18, 2007 Bloomberg News article about top campaign bundlers noted that Obama addressed the Goldman's annual partners meeting 2006 in Chicago.