Goldman Sachs Exec Who Devised ‘Big Short’ Donates to Booker

Emailed colleagues in 2007 saying they would make 'serious money' off housing market collapse

Sen. Cory Booker/ Getty Images
July 18, 2019

Donald Mullen Jr., the former Goldman Sachs mortgage executive who told colleagues in 2007 they would make "serious money" off the impending housing market collapse, donated $5,400 to Sen. Cory Booker's (D., N.J.) presidential campaign committee.

Mullen, who has donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to Democratic committees and candidates since 2016, donated $5,400 to Booker's presidential campaign committee, Cory 2020, back in February, according to the first quarter campaign filing of 2019. The donation came a little over three weeks after Booker announced he was running for president.

Mullen, then head of Goldman Sachs’s mortgage and credit business, was one of the architects of the of the subprime mortgage trade that helped Goldman profit from the housing market collapse, according to New York Magazine. In the years leading up to the financial crisis of 2008, Mullen and other mortgage executives at Goldman predicted the housing bubble would burst, so they devised a major bet against it in order to make sure Goldman and its clients didn't suffer major losses.

The bet, known as "the big short," was credited to Mullen, who engaged in derivatives trades that provided traders and hedge funds a way to bet against the housing market before the mortgage bust. Mullen was never accused of wrongdoing, but one of his emails to colleagues was publicly released by a Senate committee investigating Goldman's actions leading up to the financial crisis, according to Reuters.

"Sounds like we will make some serious money," Mullen told colleagues.

While Booker has attempted to distance himself from Wall Street and pledged not to accept money from corporate PACs during his presidential campaign, he has accepted millions of dollars from these special interests in the past, Politico reported last year.

Since leaving Goldman Sachs in 2012, Mullen has made millions of dollars as the chief executive officer and co-founder of the real estate firm Pretium Partners LLC. The hedge fund was set up to buy thousands of homes that were foreclosed upon after the housing crisis and then renting them out.

The Booker campaign did not respond to a request for comment on the donation.

Mullen's most recent political donations were two $2,800 donations to Mark Kelly, the Arizona Democratic Senate candidate challenging Sen. Martha McSally (R., Ariz.), last month. $5,600 is the maximum amount an individual can donate to a candidate during an election cycle.

Kelly has received scrutiny from progressive Democrats for his close ties to corporate interests. Rep. Ruben Gallego (D., Ariz.), who decided not to challenge Kelly in the Democratic primary, slammed Kelly earlier this year for breaking his pledge not to take corporate PAC money while simultaneously taking corporate money for personal benefit during his speaking tour. Kelly and his brother addressed the Goldman Sachs Professional Investor Forum in 2016.

Failed Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton received scrutiny in 2015 after her super PAC, Priorities USA, accepted a $100,000 donation from Mullen. This was the largest single contribution Mullen made at the time to any soft money organization.