Goldman Sachs puts banker linked to Donald Trump on leave

Banker recently highlighted as only employee of bank to contribute to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign

Donald Trump, who is largely financing his own campaign, has not actively solicited donations from Wall Street.(Photograph:  Mark Wallheiser/Getty Images)

Donald Trump, who is largely financing his own campaign, has not actively solicited donations from Wall Street.(Photograph: Mark Wallheiser/Getty Images)

 

A financial adviser who was recently highlighted in an article in The New York Times as the only Goldman Sachs employee to contribute to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign has been placed on administrative leave, according to people familiar with the matter.

The employee, Luke Thorburn, made two donations, totaling $534.58, to Trump’s campaign in September, according to Federal Election Commission records. He also trademarked the phrase “Make Christianity Great Again,” according to public records.

The Times confirmed that Thorburn is associated with a website that sells hats that resemble Trump’s red and blue “Make America Great Again” caps, replacing the word “America” with “Christianity.”

Goldman employees are allowed to pursue outside business opportunities, but they first must get clearance from the company. Thorburn, a financial adviser in the bank’s wealth management division, had not received approval before pursuing the hat endeavor.

Goldman, according to people briefed on the situation but not authorised to speak on the record, put Thorburn on unpaid administrative leave last week after he was interviewed by company officials about details that appeared in The Times’ article. These people say Thorburn sought to distance himself from the website. Ultimately, the bank became concerned about apparent inconsistencies in Thorburn’s story, and placed him on leave, they said. Thorburn did not respond to requests for comment.

Andrew Williams, a spokesman for Goldman, declined to comment.

Thorburn has been with Goldman in New York since March 2014, according to public records kept with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, which is, Wall Street’s self-regulatory body. He had previously worked at JBWere, a financial services firm in Australia that has ties to Goldman.

Hope Hicks, a spokeswoman for Trump, declined to comment. Hicks, in an email sent last week, said Trump, a Republican, did not know Thorburn. She also speculated on the reason behind Thorburn’s donation. “It is more than likely the $534 dollars was the result of him purchasing campaign merchandise, which is characterised as a campaign contribution by the FEC,” she wrote. Thorburn’s contribution stands out as unusual, considering how active Wall Street has been elsewhere in the 2016 presidential race.

As of last week, for instance, Goldman employees had contributed more than $199,000 to the campaign of Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and more than $94,000 to that of Hillary Clinton, a Democrat. By contrast, Trump, who is largely financing his own campaign, has not actively solicited donations from Wall Street. A Twitter feed associated with the “Make Christianity Great Again” website had been seeking to capitalise on its moment in the spotlight, even linking to the article that led to Thorburn’s current troubles. If the website does not prosper, Thorburn has registered other domains, including some that track closely alongside the early Republican primary calendar, such as makeiowagreatagain.com and makenewhampshiregreatagain.com.

The New York Times