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The Truth About the Big Banks' Unprecedented Lobbying Avalanche

The six biggest banks have hired at least 243 lobbyists to infiltrate and buy out the regulatory framework that's supposed to keep the financial industry in check.

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There was only one lobbying firm working for both the Chamber and the Business Roundtable on financial reform issues during 2009: Peck, Madigan, Jones & Stewart, a firm with rich connections to centrist Democrats. Peck, Madigan has lobbied for each Coalition parent around derivatives reform. At the same time, the firm has also lobbied for Deutsche Bank and the International Swaps and Derivatives Association — in other words, for big banks with a healthy appetite for derivatives trading.

Since derivatives lobbyists for the Chamber and the Business Roundtable have so much in common with big bank lobbyists — in fact, they’re the same people — it’s not a giant leap to suspect that this “derivatives end-users” coalition has actually just been set up by big bank executives who are afraid of their own toxicity.

Then there’s the fact that Bill Daley, JPMorgan’s in-house Democratic rainmaker, was a recent chair of the Chamber’s Center on Capital Markets Competitiveness, a big bank-driven effort to shape the financial reform debate. Peck Madigan also lobbied for that group. ThinkProgress has also exposed how the Chamber is working with big banks to kill reform. And JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon is on the board of the Business Roundtable, which has hired a number of Goldman Sachs lobbyists.

Unfortunately, the shadow bank lobby is a force to be reckoned with, and has won substantial victories for big banks throughout the financial reform process. In December, for instance, Representative Melissa Bean forced a negotiation with House leadership over federal preemption language in the financial reform bill. Bean succeeded in winning a major concession for the big banks, behind closed doors.

Bean was taking her cues from the shadow bank lobby. Her former chief of staff, John Michael Gonzalez, went through the revolving door in 2009 to become a bank lobbyist. Gonzalez works at the Chamber’s favorite lobbying firm on financial reform issues: Peck, Madigan. Here’s one issue his team was lobbying around on behalf of the Chamber, according to a recent disclosure filing:

H.R. 4173, the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act; Preemption provisions; Rep. Bean preemption amendment. (emphasis mine)

(While levels of disclosure are typically woefully lacking in lobbying disclosure filings — and Peck, Madigan has had issues in this area surrounding its work for the Chamber — I applaud the firm for their unusual openness here.)

These days, Democratic Senator Tom Carper is the new Melissa Bean. He is sponsoring a preemption amendment that will keep states from being able to implement stronger consumer protections than the federal government. The amendment is clearly big bank-driven. But why Carper? Plenty of other Senators could have gone to bat for the big banks on this issue.

The answer is once again found in the revolving door data we compiled for Big Bank Takeover: Carper’s former chief of staff, Jonathon Jones, is a partner at Peck, Madigan — the same firm that lobbied for the Bean preemption amendment, and the same firm where John Michael Gonzalez, Bean’s ex-chief of staff, now works. Carper and Jones are extremely close, to the point where the Senator has “gushed” to Politico about how much he likes his former chief of staff.

This is how the seeds of financial destruction are sown: with real people leveraging real relationships to win major policy concessions for big banks.

If final negotiations around financial reform happen behind closed doors, as they did when Bean won her preemption fight with House leadership in December, the big bank lobby and its army of well-connected insiders will continue to win on the Hill. Today’s Congress will once again facilitate reckless gambling and predatory behavior by too-big-to-fail banks.

 
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