Photo: AP

At one point during last night’s Democratic debate, Hillary Clinton tried to use Bernie Sanders’s anti-Wall Street message against him. “I’m the only one on this stage who did not vote to deregulate swaps and derivatives, as Senator Sanders did,” she said. “That contributed to the collapse of Lehman Brothers, and started the cascade.”

Clinton was referring to the Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000, which Sanders voted for as a member of the House of Representatives—and which President Bill Clinton signed into law. In fact, there were significant differences between the bill Sanders signed, which passed the House by 377 to 4 (with 51 abstentions) in October 2000, and the one that became law. The bill was introduced into the Senate in December, but thanks to its chief architect, Texas Senator Phil Gramm, that body never voted on it. From The Huffington Post:

In December, Gramm — after coordinating with top Clinton administration officials — added much harder-edged deregulatory language to the bill, then attached the entire package to a must-pass 11,000-page bill funding the entire federal government. After Gramm’s workshopping, the legislation included new language saying the federal government “shall not exercise regulatory authority with respect to, a covered swap agreement offered, entered into, or provided by a bank.” That ended all government oversight of derivatives purchased or traded by banks. He also created the so-called “Enron Loophole,” which barred federal oversight of energy trading on electronic platforms.

Those “top Clinton administration officials,” according to the Sunlight Foundation, were members of the President’s Working Group on Financial Markets: Treasury Secretary Larry Summers, CFTC Chairman William Rainer, and SEC Chairman Arthur Levitt.

Also, while it is true that Clinton didn’t vote for CFMA, that is a meaningless claim to make, as she wasn’t in the Senate at the time any of the relevant legislation was being considered.