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Wall Street Support Helps, Harms Cantor

Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor is experiencing the upsides and downsides of a close relationship with Wall Street.

Democrats, watchdog groups and liberal protesters have trumpeted Cantor's finance industry backing as evidence of what's wrong with Wall Street. After Cantor warned of the "growing mobs" fueling Occupy Wall Street protests comments he later modified Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington churned out a report touting Cantor's status as one of the House's top two recipients of finance industry donations.

CREW also played up Cantor's personal Wall Street ties: His wife, Diana Cantor, is a partner with a secretive New York firm dealing in private equity and hedge funds known as Alternative Investment Management. She was previously a managing director of New York Private Bank & Trust and a vice president at Goldman, Sachs & Co., whose employees have donated generously to Cantor over the years.

A stalwart opponent of tax increases who has clashed with President Barack Obama and Vice President Joseph Biden during budget negotiations, Cantor has also led efforts to protect the preferential tax treatment awarded to hedge fund sales and to "carried interest," the money fund managers earn on investment gains.

The Majority Leader "has chosen to put himself in a position where he is a successful motivator for Democratic fundraising," one Democratic operative said. One state Democratic party organization built its "single most successful fundraising appeal of the year" around Cantor, he noted.

But for Republicans, Cantor's Wall Street money is filling an important hole. NRCC fundraising lagged behind Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee receipts last month, and House Republicans have been slow to pony up dues to the GOP committee.

Having helped win back the House by recruiting and grooming conservative Young Guns, Cantor is now stumping to defend them. He's set up more than a half-dozen joint fundraising committees, the Young Guns Victory Funds, to help candidates in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Illinois and South Carolina, public records show, and he is hosting fund raisers for them around the country.

He's also teamed up with McCarthy and Ryan to set up another joint fundraising committee, the Young Guns Majority Victory Fund, to pool the resources of the three lawmakers' leadership PACs.

Cantor's campaign and his leadership PAC, Every Republican is Crucial, have also donated some $1.3 million to the NRCC; given $5,000 apiece to no fewer than 140 House candidates; donated more than $100,000 to the Virginia GOP; and topped that off with contributions to the state GOP committees in Nevada, New Hampshire, New York and North Dakota, according to FEC reports.

"Our fundraising is obviously not down," Cantor senior strategist Ray Allen said. "A lot of people are looking to Eric for leadership, and a lot of people support what he's trying to do in the Congress."

Allen brushed off anti-Cantor assaults from protesters and Democrats, which the Majority Leader has set out to soften with a series of PR-minded YouTube videos and media appearances: "When you are trying to change things, a lot of people are going to try to shoot at you."

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