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Warren fires back at banks halting donations to Democrats

Senator Elizabeth Warren.Joshua Roberts/REUTERS/file

WASHINGTON -- Senator Elizabeth Warren took aim at Wall Street on Friday after two banks reportedly decided to halt campaign contributions to Senate Democrats unless Warren and Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio tone down their rhetoric on breaking up large financial institutions.

“They can threaten or bully or say whatever they want, but we aren’t going to change our game plan,” Warren wrote to her supporters. “We do, however, need to respond.”

Warren asked her supporters to help raise the $30,000 that JPMorgan Chase and Citigroup are allegedly saying they would withhold from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. Each bank can contribute $15,000 to the committee through their corporate PACs per year.


Warren’s message went to her campaign e-mail list, which can yield $100,000 in contributions from one fundraising plea.

Reuters reported on Friday that the two banks decided stop giving to the DSCC, citing unnamed sources. The wire service also said Goldman Sachs and Bank of America have participated in discussions about tying contribution decisions to Warren’s rhetoric.

Citigroup is a frequent target of Warren’s attacks. In December she addressed the bank directly in a speech on the Senate floor, saying that she wished the Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform legislation had “broken you into pieces.”

Molly Millerwise Meiners, Citi’s Director for Corporate Communications wouldn’t say whether the bank is planning to change its giving pattern based on her speeches. “Citi’s Political Action Committee contributes to candidates and parties across the political spectrum that share our desire for pro-business policies that promote economic growth,” she said in a statement.

Andrew Gray, a spokesperson for JP Morgan Chase, said the bank “always believed in the importance of engaging constructively with our public officials.”

This latest spat between Wall Street and Warren comes amid a major change in the Senate Democratic caucus. Minority Leader Harry Reid, a Warren booster, said Friday that he won’t seek re-election in two years. The move opens up the top Democratic leadership slot, and the likely successor will be Senator Chuck Schumer of New York.


Some liberal groups floated the idea of a Warren bid the post. An aide to Warren tried to tamp that down Friday afternoon, saying she wouldn’t seek the post.

Warren’s office didn’t respond to questions about whether she plans to support Schumer. His rise puts her in an awkward position, since he represents a more centrist section of the party. As New York’s senior senator, he’s topped a Forbes list of politicians receiving the most money from large banks. Warren pointed to Forbes contribution rankings in 2012 when accusing opponent Scott Brown of being was too cozy with Wall Street.

Warren and Schumer have been allies. Schumer was among the first to sponsor legislation Warren wrote to create the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Annie Linskey can be reached at annie.linskey@globe.com.