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Which Bank Is the Worst for America? 5 Behemoths That Hold Our Political System Hostage

We've ranked the banks based on how shamelessly they game the political process through lobbying, revolving door politics and campaign donations.

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Wall Street would continue to have his back as his career progressed. According to Open Secrets, between 2007 and the current cycle, Schumer raked in $3.9 million from the securities, banking and insurance industries – over 20 percent of all his fundraising. He has raised more from Wall Street than any other lawmaker over the last two years. Over the course of his political career, the securities and investment industries are his top contributors; the four most generous institutions during his time in the Senate have been Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, Morgan Stanley and JPMorgan Chase, in that order.

The ostensibly liberal senator from New York, who sits on the Senate Finance and Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committees – and chairs the all-important Committee on Rules and Administration (which deal with, among other things, lobbying restrictions) – has returned that friendship consistently.

Although he voted for the Dodd-Frank financial reform bill in 2010, earlier this year, he joined several other lawmakers in a letter urging federal legislators not to adopt new regulations on derivatives, arguing that they would “inevitably result in significant competitive disadvantages for U.S. firms operating globally.” He voted to extend the Bush tax cuts on capital gains in both 2005 and 2006.

In 2008, the New York Times analyzed Schumer's voting record, and found that he has consistently sided with Wall Street on issue after issue, often crossing the aisle to do so.

That's just Congress. The presidential election in 2012 will be the most expensive in history; Barack Obama has already raised over $89 million for his reelection, while his GOP opponents are raising and spending boatloads of cash as well.

The banking industry is by and large leaning more Republican for 2012 than it did in 2008 (This only includes direct contributions to the campaigns; it doesn't include money Obama has raised for the Democratic National Committee, which will help support his re-election efforts). Through the 2nd quarter of 2011, the Obama campaign has only raised $857,000 from the securities and investment industries, $44,750 from Goldman Sachs, the only one of our top five to make it onto OpenSecrets’ top contributors' list.

Two of Obama’s top bundlers are also connected to Goldman Sachs. Vicki Heyman has brought in between $100,000 and $200,000 for Obama, according to OpenSecrets, and David Solow between $50,000 and $100,000. (In comparison, by the end of the 2008 election, Obama had gotten $1,013,000 from Goldman Sachs, $808,000 from JPMorgan Chase and $736,000 from Citigroup.)

Mitt Romney is the clear favorite candidate of Wall Street this year, having taken in $2,339,588 from securities and investment companies. Goldman Sachs is the top contributor to Romney’s campaign, having given $293,250 between political action committees, employees and their families. Bank of America has kicked in $59,000, Wells Fargo and JPMorgan around $45,000 each and Citigroup brings up the rear with $33,000.

Wells Fargo tossed a few thousand to Newt Gingrich and Herman Cain as well. It's always good to cover one's bases.

We should note that this report, like all others on this topic, is necessarily incomplete. Corporations don't like airing their campaign spending in public, and there are two ways they can and do avoid it.

First, corporate front-groups like the Chamber of Commerce effectively “launder” corporate campaign cash, keeping a company's fingerprints from appearing on lobbying and campaign disclosure reports. The Chamber is not required, and does not disclose its members, but according to Think Progress, “several confirmed Chamber members are banks which were bailed out by taxpayers.” These include Citigroup, Marshall & Ilsley Bank and the New York Private Bank & Trust. According to Americans for Financial Reform, Bank of America, JPMorgan, Morgan Stanley, PNC Financial Services and M&I Bank are also Chamber members.