Wall Street’s Big Bucks Influence Congress
The financial industries that will benefit from the massive bailout legislation being rushed through Congress are among the biggest campaign contributors to both political parties and lobbyists are pressing hard for favorable language in the emergency bill.
Since 2002 the securities, banking and mortgage industries have contributed more than $1.1 billion to congressional candidates and millions more were donated to charities of prominent politicians. The figures don’t even include the hundreds of millions spent on lobbying legislators.
In the 2008 election cycle alone the sector gave Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama $22.5 million, New York Senator Hillary Clinton $21.5 million and Republican presidential candidate John McCain $19.6 million. The lawmakers who are playing key roles in the bill that will likely be voted on this week also got hefty sums from the industry.
Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd, a Democrat from Connecticut, got $6 million and his counterpart in the House, Massachusetts Democrat Barney Frank got $720,000 this year. The second ranking Democrat on the House Financial Services Committee, Pennsylvania’s Paul Kanjorski, received $755,000 and Republican Spencer Bachus of Alabama got $704,000 in contributions.
A highly-regarded industry expert who once served as chief accountant for the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) said that tracing the movement of Wall Street money through Washington proves that lobbyists and the executives who hire them get what they want. That means taxpayers usually end up getting fleeced.