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Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) has welcomed people to look at her voting record as the best way to judge her position on key issues. (Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Gillibrand Defends Voting Record Following Report NY Senator Feeling Out Wall Street Support for 2020 Run

"The Democratic Party," writes one critic, "needs a clean break from corporate money and influence if it's ever going to govern well, win back the trust of voters, or truly represent the working class."

Jon Queally

In the wake of reporting that the potential 2020 Democratic candidate has been "reaching out to Wall Street executives" in order to gauge their support for her possible run, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) responded by saying that what's more important than the people she might be talking to is her strong voting record on behalf of progressive economic policies.

Citing a pair of senior business leaders who spoke on the condition of anonymity about the behind-the-scenes discussions, CNBC reported Friday that "Gillibrand has personally been working the phones and calling senior executives at Wall Street firms in recent weeks to see whether they would back her campaign if she jumps into the race."

Seen as a likely Democratic primary candidate—Gillibrand told CNN's Van Jones last month she was "definitely thinking about" running—the reporting by CNBC raised eyebrows among those monitoring the numerous Democrats who are believed top contenders.

In response to journalist David Sirota, who tweeted "This seems important" alongside a link to the CNBC story, Gillibrand tweeted:

As CNBC reported, even while "Gillibrand has received donations from Wall Street," it's true that she "has pushed for tightening regulations in the financial industry. She voted in support of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act and then voted against a bill in 2018 that rolled back some bank regulations put in place in 2010. As a member of the House of Representatives, she voted against the bank bailout during the 2008 financial crisis."

A spokesperson for Gillibrand told the news outlet for its reporting that if the decision to throw her hat in the ring is made, "she will run a campaign that takes no corporate PAC money and is powered by grassroots donations, and based on her values of standing up to those in power and returning our democracy to the people where it belongs."

While some progressives argue that Gillibrand's Wall Street ties would be a major "problem" if she decides to run in 2020, she has also staked out serious and far-reaching positions on women's equality, backed the demand for Medicare for All, supported legislation to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour, and signed a pledge not to take fossil fuel industry money during her campaign.

Regarding the back and forth with reporter about her record, Gillibrand was given credit for addressing the issue. As journalist Peter Sterne wrote, "Gillibrand is very good at engaging with her critics, constituents and journalists. Even when I disagree with her policies, I appreciate that she generally doesn’t attack the media or criticize journalists for asking questions."

Acknowledging the importance of her votes against Wall Street, Sirota in a subsequent tweet responded to Gillbrand by saying "those are good votes to promote," but then asked the Senator why she voted with a majority of Republicans against a 2010 bill that would have broken up the largest Wall Street banks.

As of this writing, Gillibrand has not responded to the question. While voicing her opinion that Gillibrand should not run in 2020 based on her too-cozy ties to Wall Street, Splinter's Libby Watson also said that it's entirely possible for the senator from New York to come out early and pledge not to accept such backing if she runs for president.

Either way, Watson concluded, "The Democratic Party needs a clean break from corporate money and influence if it's ever going to govern well, win back the trust of voters, or truly represent the working class. It can't afford to nominate someone whose first call is to Wall Street executives for cash."

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