The New York Times got a look at some e-mails between Wall Street’s pack of lobbyists and some of D.C.’s most powerful legislators.
The short version of this story is that lobbyists are still doing what they do — influencing politics in favour of their clients — and politicians are still doing what they do — letting them.
Only, when the details are right before you, the sausage making process is pretty ugly, and the NYT’s report is full of them.
One bill that sailed through the House Financial Services Committee this month — over the objections of the Treasury Department — was essentially Citigroup‘s, according to e-mails reviewed by The New York Times. The bill would exempt broad swathes of trades from new regulation.
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.)
Most of this story centres around the House Financial Committee, headed by Jeb Hensarling (R-TX). It’s become a target for lobbyists for obvious reasons, and freshman politicians use it as a platform for raising money.
And so the story goes.
Other highlights include:
- Lobbyists paying $2,500 to dine with Representative Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY), the co-sponsor of a bill to defang Dodd-Frank.
- This quote: “We will provide input if we see a bill and it is something we have interest in,” said Kenneth E. Bentsen Jr., a former lawmaker turned Wall Street lobbyist, who now serves as president of the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association, or Sifma.
- Corporate lawyers writing legislation via e-mail.
Demoracts and Republicans are both guilty of this, if not in equal measure, according to the report.
For example, New York Democrat Joe Crowley lead a group of Congressman to NYC to meet bank heads recently — they had audiences with Jamie Dimon and Lloyd Blankfein.
And as usual, Dimon got to deliver one of his classic speeches (NYT):
“America has the widest, deepest and most transparent capital markets in the world,” he said. “Washington has been dealt a good hand.”
They didn’t have to go to New York City to hear that, Dimon says it all the time.