The Wall Street banks have been pumping millions into lobbying Congress for more financial free rein. Now, along with contributing to members of the House Financial Services Committee, the banks are extending their reach by having their lobbyists help draft financial legislation.
Ever since the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act was approved by Congress and signed by President Obama in 2010, the banks have been taking every avenue possible in attempts to smother Dodd-Frank with the proverbial pillow. They have upped the ante by sending more lobbyists to Congress to change finance reform and have been unloading money for their campaigns by the boatload.
Recently, the House Financial Services Committee fast tracked a bill that was mostly written by Citigroup lobbyists. The New York Times reported that “Citigroup’s recommendations were reflected in more than 70 lines of the House committee’s 85-line bill.” Parts of the bill were copied nearly verbatim, with exception of legislators pluralizing two words.
Corporate attorneys have even been able to make amendments to certain pieces of legislations. Michael Bopp, a white-collar criminal defense attorney whose clients are among the likes of Goldman Sachs, helped amend a bill written by the House committee “that would force regulators (enforcing Dodd-Frank) to exempt” derivative trades.
Also with helping pen financial bills, Bopp has a connection to Citigroup, who has deployed the novice law-writing lobbyists. Bopp’s firm, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, is on retainer by Business Roundtable, which is a lobbying firm supporting corporate interests who spent over $13 million on lobbying expenses in 2012, and Citigroup.
Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher has defended Citigroup on numerous occasions against violations of federal securities laws that include Citigroup underwriting an accumulated $2.9 billion. Citigroup CEO Vikram Pandit also made a contribution to Business Roundtable last year.
Citigroup also has a couple House Financial Services Committee members in its pocket. Committee Chairman Emeritus has received contributions from Citigroup, as well as Rep. Scott Garrett (R-NJ), who has received over $35,000 from the financial giant.
Wall Street has dumped over $1 billion into trying to beat the Dodd-Frank reform. In the last three years, consumer advocacy groups have only been able to afford $1.1 million. Corporate banks coupled with the likes of the Chamber of Commerce and the American Bankers Association, who together spent $425 million in lobbying against Dodd-Frank, dwarf the consumer advocacy groups’ spending by 1,000 percent.
The comparison of actual living, breathing lobbyists looks no different. In 2012, there were only 20 lobbyists on Capitol Hill defending Dodd-Frank. Those 20 went up against over 400 lobbyists enlisted by the top five banking groups who are trying to dismantle Dodd-Frank.
In almost every avenue one can think of, Wall Street has it’s tentacles dug deeply. They constantly constrict any means of bank restriction and allow virtually no breathing room for ethical business practices and economic fairness. So, what happens if there’s a law you don’t want to obey? If you’re like any other regular person out there, you have to obey it. If you’re a Wall Street titan that feels above the law, you simply pay to have it changed.
Joshua de Leon is a writer and researcher with Ring of Fire.