On Friday night, Washington Post media writer Howard Kurtz wrote on Twitter: “Elena Kagan was a paid adviser to Goldman Sachs? What could be worse--being on the offshore risk committee for BP?” Kurtz's tweet is ridiculous: The Justice Department has said that Kagan advised Goldman Sachs just “once a year” and was not involved in any investment decisions.
USA Today reported last month that Kagan served on a Goldman Sachs “panel from 2005 through 2008, when she was dean of Harvard Law School, and received a $10,000 stipend for her service in 2008, her disclosure forms show.” USA Today added that the group “met once a year to discuss public policy issues and was not involved in any investment decisions, Justice Department spokesman Tracy Schmaler said.” The Wall Street Journal similarly quoted the Justice Department stating that the “group wasn't involved in making any investment decisions for the company.”
White House press secretary Robert Gibbs also said that the panel “had absolutely nothing to do with the decisions that Goldman has made that they're now being investigated for.”
How weak is the evidence tying Kagan's “once a year” Goldman advisory role to the company's alleged wrongdoings? Even discredited National Review Online writer Ed Whelan finds the suggestion “ludicrous” :
It would strike me as ludicrous for anyone to suggest that Kagan's advisory role on the Goldman Sachs GMI panel had any causal connection to whatever wrongdoings Goldman Sachs is alleged to have committed. At the same time, her ties to Goldman Sachs would make even more farfetched any effort by the White House to depict Kagan as some sort of populist candidate who has a keen understanding of the challenges that ordinary Americans face in their everyday lives.