Just one Goldman Sachs employee donated to Donald Trump's campaign, and he's since been put on administrative leave, reports the New York Times, whose initial mention of the employee appears to have sparked his employers' suspicions.
Luke Thorburn first appeared in the news on February 23rd, when his name was mentioned toward the end of a long Times piece on Trump's relative lack of influence in New York City. Noting that very little of Trump's campaign donations (which already comprise a small fraction of his largely self-funded campaign) had come from Wall Street, the piece named Thorburn as the sole Goldman Sachs employee who has donated to the campaign, at least in his own name. That piece also said that Thorburn had been selling hats inspired by Trump's "Make America Great Again" swag.
According to the Federal Election Commission, Thorburn made two donations of $267.29 in September 2015. Public records also show that this January, he trademarked the phrase "Make Christianity Great Again"—the same phrase that adorns the hats sold on makechristianitygreatagain.com, which is registered to Thorburn's zipcode and was also created in January 2016. Despite these facts, Make Christianity Great Again denied being owned by Thorburn when reached by email, and encouraged us to "buy a hat and follow the money trail." Smart marketing!
The Times has the details of Thorburn's abrupt leave:
Goldman employees are allowed to pursue outside business opportunities, but they first must get clearance from the company. Mr. Thorburn, a financial adviser in the bank’s wealth management division, had not received approval before pursuing the hat endeavor.
Goldman, according to people briefed on the situation but not authorized to speak on the record, put Mr. Thorburn on paid administrative leave last week after he was interviewed by company officials about details that appeared in The Times’s article.
These people say that Mr. Thorburn sought to distance himself from the website. Ultimately, the bank became concerned about apparent inconsistencies in Mr. Thorburn’s story, and placed him on leave, they said.
Make Christianity Great Again describes itself as "a refreshing way for YOU to remind yourself that faith will prevail. Evil can be extinguished by the blood of Christ through your proud faith." The site sells just three items: the hat in red and blue, and a bumper sticker with the same logo. Thorburn's recent media attention has apparently been quite the boon to business:
The site is conveniently having a flash sale on its merchandise today, perhaps because Thorburn doesn't have immediate cause to worry about his finances: as the Times reports, his leave is paid.