* Richard "Jake" Siewert to lead global communications
* Previously worked in Clinton and Obama administrations
* Appointment comes as president pledges to hold Wall St
By Lauren Tara LaCapra
March 13 Goldman Sachs Group Inc
has reached into Democratic circles to find its new top
spokesman, Richard "Jake" Siewert.
On Tuesday, the bank announced in an internal memo that
Siewert, a veteran of the Clinton and Obama administrations,
would become its new global head of corporate communications,
replacing departing public relations chief Lucas van Praag.
The 48-year-old Siewert spent eight years as a spokesman and
adviser in the Clinton administration and most recently was a
top aide to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner.
At Goldman, Siewert has received the title of managing
director, a senior-level position, according to a memo sent by
John F. W. Rogers, Goldman's chief of staff and board secretary.
A Goldman spokesman confirmed the contents of the memo.
Goldman said in a separate memo last month that van Praag
would be leaving the bank at the end of March, one in a string
of several high-level departures. [ID: nL2E8ECFSE]
The sharp-tongued van Praag had drawn criticism for his
handling of public outrage at Goldman in the wake of the
financial crisis, defending Goldman executives' actions and
their multimillion-dollar pay packages, and often telling
reporters in public statements that their stories were
half-baked or unintelligent.
Siewert turned down offers to work on Wall Street after
pursuing - but not completing - a law degree at the University
of California at Berkeley, according to a biography on the
Washington Post's WhoRunsGov Web site.
Instead, the bespectacled spokesman began his career in
Washington as communications director for the Democratic
Governors Association in 1991. Two years later he joined the
Clinton White House and stayed there until the president left
office, working as a press secretary and special assistant to
the president for economic affairs.
Between political stints, Siewert was a communications
executive at Alcoa Inc from 2001 to 2009. Before
accepting the Goldman position, he was said to be considering a
similar job at PepsiCo Inc.
He leaves the Obama administration for Goldman at a time
when Wall Street wealth is a major topic of discussion in the
run-up to the presidential election.
The financial industry is facing protests from groups like
Occupy Wall Street and many government investigations for its
role in the subprime housing crisis. In his State of the Union
speech in January, President Obama pledged to hold Wall Street
accountable with a new investigative task force.
So far this year, Goldman and its employees have donated $3
million to election campaigns, with 21 percent going to
Democratic candidates. In 2008, the bank and its workers donated
$6.1 million, with 75 percent pledged to Democratics.