Washington (CNN) – As many Americans rail against big banks and lawmakers push for financial reform, Democratic Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and Chris Dodd of Connecticut will attend a New York fundraiser with some top Democratic donors who also have ties to Wall Street.
The Monday fundraiser will be hosted by Jane Hartley, a longtime Gillibrand supporter, at her Manhattan home. Hartley does not work in the financial industry, but her husband is Ralph Schlosstein, president and CEO of the investment firm Evercore Partners. Schlosstein also served in the Carter administration.
Politicians have long rubbed elbows with Wall Street executives, who have traditionally been an important source of campaign dollars. But Gillibrand and Dodd's attendance at the event could prove politically embarrassing.
Dodd is the chairman of the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee, which is deeply involved in crafting legislation to reform to Wall Street. In November, Gillibrand hopes to win a full six year term after New York Gov. David Paterson appointed her to the seat left vacant when Hillary Clinton became Secretary of State.
The senators' attendance at the event could give critics political ammunition in what has become a major battle over which party is cozier with Wall Street.
Recently, Republicans slammed Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, for holding a fundraiser on Wall Street in January. Afterwards, the senator's office said Reid is committed to financial reform and holding Wall Street accountable. President Obama claimed that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, and Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, attended a meeting with Wall Street leaders to strategize how to block Wall Street reform – a charge McConnell denied. And Sen. Blanche Lincoln, D-Arkansas, recently cancelled a New York fundraiser with Goldman Sachs executives – and vowed not to take anymore campaign cash from the firm.
This week, current and former Goldman Sachs executives faced blistering cross-examination from lawmakers about the firm's role in the financial crisis. And earlier this month the Securities and Exchange Commission charged Goldman with defrauding investors in the sale of a complex mortgage investment – a charge Goldman denies.
The upcoming fundraiser was first reported in the Wall Street Journal.
The paper said that donors to the fundraiser, hoping to reach "host" status, are encouraged to contribute and solicit up to $19,800.
A Gillibrand spokesman said her attendance at a fundraiser that will include financial sector executives should not be misinterpreted.
"Senator Gillibrand's support for strong financial reform proves there is zero conflict," Communications Director Matt Canter said in a statement to CNN.
"The event is not an industry event. It is being hosted by some of the leading Democratic donors in New York City, many of who have supported Senator Gillibrand since her first run for Congress," he said.
Bryan DeAngelis, a spokesman for Dodd, said in a statement, "Senator Dodd has seen the great work Senator Gillibrand is doing for the people of New York and strongly supports her re-election."
The statement added, "Dodd's Wall Street Reform bill, which Senator Gillibrand strongly supports, is going to bring tough new rules and accountability to Wall Street."