Protesters Shout 'Jamie Dimon is a Crook' at JPMorgan Senate Hearing

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Common Dreams

Protesters Shout 'Jamie Dimon is a Crook' at JPMorgan Senate Hearing

'Too Big to Fail'

by
Common Dreams staff

Two protesters shout at JP Morgan Chase and Company Chief Executive Officer Jamie Dimon as he testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, June 13, 2012. (REUTERS/Larry Downing)

JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon is on Capitol Hill today to provide Congressional testimony and face questioning from members of the U.S. Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee.

Dimon and  JP Morgan have helped bankroll the campaigns of many of the members of the Senate committee including the top Republican and the top Democrat on the committee: Richard Shelby (R-AL) and Chairman Tim Johnson (D-SD).

The start of the hearing was delayed by demonstrators in the room who shouted about stopping foreclosures. Another demonstrator shouted, "Jamie Dimon's a crook!" At least a dozen people were escorted from the hearing room.

Dimon appeared amused during the outbursts, which lasted several minutes. At another point before the questioning began, he gave a smug smile.

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The Center for Responsive Politics reports:

Dimon has a long record of contributing to congressional candidates, primarily Democrats. In the 2012 election cycle he has given $6,800 to Democratic candidates and $4,500 to Republicans. Among the recipients are committee members Bob Corker (R-TN) and Mark Warner (D-VA). Dimon has also contributed to the top Republican and the top Democrat on the committee, though not for several years: both Richard Shelby (R-AL) and Chairman Tim Johnson (D-SD) received $2,000 from Dimon in 2008.

That campaign cycle was Dimon's most significant as a donor. He gave the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee more than $55,000 dollars and sent thousands to multiple current members of the Banking Committee: Jack Reed (D-RI), Mike Crapo (R-ID) and Mark Warner (D-VA) each received $2,000.

While Dimon backed Hillary Clinton and Chris Dodd in the presidential race that year, he then gave $50,000 to Barack Obama's inaugural committee. Dimon has not put any money into the 2012 presidential contest.

Combined contributions from JPMorgan Chase PACs and employees favored Democrats from 2002-2008, before trending Republican in the 2010 elections and, thus far, in the 2012 cycle as well. Those numbers do not, however, tell the full story, as donations from JPMorgan Chase's PACS -- which are officially on behalf of the corporation -- typically swing Republican. JP Morgan's main PAC for candidate contributions has favored Republicans each year since 1996, with the exception of a near-tie in 2002. A second company PAC  has focused on contributions to Republican-aligned PACs and party committees in 2010 and 2012.

JPMorgan Chase has been relatively non-partisan in its giving to Banking Committee members, however. Its PAC money has found its way to all but six of the committee's senators. While Daniel Akaka (D-HI) and Herb Kohl (D-WI) are both retiring and have no need for campaign funds, Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Pat Toomey (R-PA), Michael Johanns (R-NE) and Jeff Merkley (D-OR) have all faced reelection from 2008-2012 and have had to do without support from JPMorgan Chase's PACS.

Besides campaign contributions, JPMorgan Chase has other ways to grease the wheels with the committee: Naomi Camper, currently the co-head of the bank's federal government relations group, was an aide for committee Chair Tim Johnson from 2001-2004. Additionally, Kate Childress -- who The New Republic credited for spearheading a campaign to weaken the proposed regulation of derivatives during the 2009 debate over financial reform -- was a staff director for the panel prior to joining JPMorgan Chase as a lobbyist.

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Reuters reports:

JPMorgan Chase & Co Chief Executive Jamie Dimon's highly anticipated appearance before lawmakers on Wednesday got off to a rocky start with multiple protesters disrupting the event.

"Jamie Dimon is a crook" cried out protesters. Dimon, dressed in a conservative suit, appeared unperturbed by the barrage of insults.Dimon was called to testify before the Senate Banking Committee to answer why a seemingly low-risk unit of the nation's largest bank by assets has amassed at least $2 billion in trading losses.

The protests started with one man yelling out that "Jamie Dimon is a crook" as Dimon approached the witness table. Dimon, dressed in a conservative suit, appeared unperturbed by the barrage of insults.

Another group of protesters then started chanting, "Stop foreclosures now" before they were escorted out of the cavernous hearing room.

Dimon revealed during a surprise conference call last month that a hedging strategy in its London office had gone awry, producing at least $2 billion, and possibly $3 billion, in trading losses.

That was after Dimon in April dismissed as a "tempest in a teapot" news reports that a "London whale" in that office had amassed an outsized position that prompted hedge funds to bet against it.

In prepared testimony, Dimon said the loss occurred because poorly managed traders embarked in January on a misguided hedging strategy they did not fully understand.

Dimon also said that the trading loss is an isolated incident and that the bank is in solid shape.

"Our fortress balance sheet remains intact," he said. "While there are still two weeks left in our second quarter, we expect our quarter to be solidly profitable."

 

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