Back in 2012, then Newark, New Jersey mayor Cory Booker went on Meet the Press and defended Mitt Romney from criticisms over the Republican presidential candidate’s career at Bain Capital, urging President Obama and other Democrats to “stop attacking private equity” and calling such attacks “nauseating.”
Since that infamous appearance, Booker has done much to refine his image. Soon after, he took to YouTube to walk back his comments shielding private equity. Upon taking office in the Senate, he has voted against Wall Street interests, pledged his support for Bernie Sanders’ Medicare For All plan and sworn off corporate PAC money. And during his 2020 presidential run he has styled himself as an unabashed progressive.
Yet the sources of Booker’s campaign funding for his senatorial campaign committee during the most recent cycle suggest he still has a long way to go to convince skeptical progressive voters that he’s really turned over a new, populist leaf. Even as Booker was publicly repositioning himself as a stalwart progressive, he continued to receive money from firms and organizations that lobby, work for, or are otherwise connected to the very industries he would, in theory, have to challenge as president.
Despite rejecting corporate PAC money in February 2018, he still received large amounts of contributions that year from individuals working in industries and lobbying firms whose interests run counter to many progressives’ most cherished policy goals. Among his current top contributors were individuals from major Wall Street firms such as Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Prudential Financial and private equity firm Apollo Global Management.