Funds News

Goldman sharply raised political, lobby spending

* Nearly doubled lobby spending in early 2010

* Campaign donations favor Republicans, reversing 09 trend

WASHINGTON, April 21 (Reuters) - Goldman Sachs Group Inc GS.N aggressively increased political campaign donations and lobby spending in Congress in early 2010, as the financial reform debate gathered momentum, according to newly released official documents.

Records show the embattled Wall Street firm nearly doubling its spending on Washington lobbyists to $1.2 million during the first quarter of 2010, as the focus of the reform debate shifted to legislation proposed by Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd.

The bank spent $670,000 on lobbying during the same period a year ago, according to Senate disclosure records. The data does not show how much lobby money Goldman spent specifically on financial reform.

The Securities and Exchange Commission has charged Goldman Sachs with fraud over the structure and marketing of a debt product tied to subprime mortgages. Goldman has denied the charges.

The first-quarter increase may also be skewed by a new federal standard that requires corporations to report lobby donations to trade associations during the three-month period.

Meanwhile, Goldman’s political action committee ramped up spending for the 2010 congressional campaign during March by making nearly $300,000 in donations to congressional candidates, national party committees and the PACs of individual lawmakers, according to records collected by the Federal Election Commission (FEC).

Its campaign spending favored Republicans over Democrats by a margin of 58 percent to 42 percent both for March and the first three months of the year.

That is a stark reversal from 2009, when the firm’s spending breakdown favored Democrats over Republicans by 61-39 percent, according to an analysis by the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan watchdog on money in U.S. politics.

Goldman Sachs spokeswoman Melissa Daly declined to comment on the political and lobby spending data, which was filed late on Tuesday ahead of separate federal deadlines imposed by the FEC and Congress. (Reporting by David Morgan; Editing by Tim Dobbyn)