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Want a New Law? If You’re the Banking Industry, Just Write It Yourself

Posted on Oct 30, 2013
Gamma Man (CC BY 2.0)

A closeup of Alexander Hamilton on the 10 dollar bill.

The folks at MapLight, which traces the connections between money and policy, have a disturbingly clear report this week tracking the role the banking industry played in pushing a measure the House is considering that would water down a section of the Dodd-Frank Act covering how banks operate.

In fact, “pushing” understates it. According to The New York Times, the law was largely written by Citigroup’s banking lobbyists—which is like letting the fox tell you which chickens he wants to steal. The Times notes:

In a sign of Wall Street’s resurgent influence in Washington, Citigroup’s recommendations were reflected in more than 70 lines of the House committee’s 85-line bill. Two crucial paragraphs, prepared by Citigroup in conjunction with other Wall Street banks, were copied nearly word for word. (Lawmakers changed two words to make them plural.)

The lobbying campaign shows how, three years after Congress passed the most comprehensive overhaul of regulation since the Depression, Wall Street is finding Washington a friendlier place.

The cordial relations now include a growing number of Democrats in both the House and the Senate, whose support the banks need if they want to roll back parts of the 2010 financial overhaul, known as Dodd-Frank.

This legislative push is a second front, with Wall Street’s other battle being waged against regulators who are drafting detailed rules allowing them to enforce the law.

That article ran in May. This week, MapLight reports ahead of the vote that the banking industry and other supporters gave $22.4 million in campaign contributions while labor unions and consumer groups opposing the measure donated $3.9 million. The biggest benefactor? Speaker of the House John Boehner, who received $917,500 in contributions from the bill’s supporters. Boehner, of course, is the keeper of the switch deciding which legislation gets to the floor for a vote.

Citigroup was the engine behind the measure, as the Times piece points out. MapLight traced Citigroup’s $503,150 in campaign donations to current House members, and other industry contributions:

* Representative Jim Himes, D-Conn., has received $66,450 from Citigroup, more than any other member of the House of Representatives. Himes is a co-sponsor of the bill.

*Co-sponsors of the bill have received, on average, 16.8 times more money from Citigroup than have members of the House who have not signed on as co-sponsors.

*Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, has received $917,500 from interests supporting the bill, more than any other member of the House of Representatives.

*Representative Randy Hultgren, R-Ill., the primary sponsor of the bill, has received $136,500 from the Securities and Investment industry, more than from any other industry.

The best democracy money can buy.

—Posted by Scott Martelle.

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