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Goldman Sachs CEO defends prevalence of company execs in government

Lloyd Blankfein: We don't get special treatment

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Goldman Sachs sees so many of its executives transition into roles within the federal government that the company is often derisively referred to as “Government Sachs.”

But Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein doesn’t see the “revolving door” between the government and Goldman Sachs as a problem. In fact, he fully supports it and expects it to continue.

Blankfein declared his support for the frequency of Goldman Sachs alumni serving in the government in his annual letter to shareholders, published Thursday.

Blankfein’s defense of the tradition of Goldman Sachs executives transitioning to the government comes as many observers grumble about the Trump administration’s Goldman Sachs proclivity.

Several prominent members of the Trump administration are former Goldman Sachs employees, including Gary Cohn, the White House National Economic Council Director and Blankfein’s former top lieutenant; Steven Mnuchin, the Secretary of the Department of the Treasury; and Steve Bannon, President Donald Trump’s top advisor.

Earlier this week, the Trump administration added another Goldman Sachs exec, naming James Donovan to serve as Mnuchin’s deputy secretary at Treasury.

In the letter to shareholders, Blankfein defends the tradition of Goldman Sachs executives serving in various government roles and said that despite what some may think, the company doesn’t actually get special treatment from the government.

“Gary (Cohn) was not the first person from Goldman Sachs to join the government, and we hope and expect that he will not be the last,” Blankfein writes. “Five of my most recent predecessors went into government service, and that has not been by happenstance. One ethic that has long pervaded Goldman Sachs is a commitment to public service if one is given the opportunity to serve. And that has been true over time and in many of the geographies in which we operate.”

Blankfein writes that Goldman Sachs executives have and develop skills that make them an asset to the government.

“We recruit people who are oriented to the larger world, and their jobs require them to be both outwardly and inwardly facing,” Blankfein writes. “In the process, they develop the skills to make a contribution in large, complex organizations and the expertise to help drive economic progress and job creation.”

Blankfein then notes the criticism the company received of late, and answers the charges that the company’s receives preferential treatment from its former executives in the government.

“We have been criticized for the fact that some of our colleagues, after long careers at the firm, have moved to work in the public sector. The charge is that Goldman Sachs is able to extract certain advantages that others cannot,” Blankfein writes. “In fact, the opposite is true. Those in government bend over backward to avoid any perception of favoritism.”

Blankfein concludes by stating that the company will continue to encourage its employees to serve in the government in the future.

“We are proud of our tradition of leadership and public service and believe it is a core part of our culture,” Blankfein concludes. “That is why we will continue to encourage our people to contribute to government service if they are fortunate enough to be asked.”

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