The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release
Contact: Phone: (202) 588-1000

Bailed-Out Banks' PACs, Lobbyists Have Sponsored 70 Fundraisers for Congress, Donated $6 Million Since Election

Public Citizen Report Shows Those Fighting Federal Oversight of Banking Industry Among Biggest Fundraisers


Lobbyists, political action committees (PACs) and trade associations
tied to the banks receiving the most federal bailout money have
scheduled 70 fundraisers for members of Congress since Election Day and
have made $6 million in federal campaign contributions, according to a Public Citizen report released today.

The report, "Bank-Rolling Congress," contains Public Citizen's
analysis of fundraiser invitations collected by the Sunlight Foundation
and campaign contribution disclosures that lobbyists and
lobbyist-affiliated PACs are required to make to the Senate. The study
was based on an examination of the 10 banks receiving the most Troubled
Asset Relief Program (TARP) money and five trade associations opposing
a government agency to oversee consumer financial products. (The
Sunlight data shows no fundraisers hosted by three of the 10 banks and
one of the trade associations. One firm, SunTrust Bank, did not report
any lobbying.)

"One Wall Street investment strategy hasn't changed despite the
economic downturn, and that's spending money on lobbying and campaign
contributions," said David Arkush, director of Public Citizen's
Congress Watch division. "In the current system, members of Congress
have little choice but to raise mountains of campaign cash, which gives
Wall Street and others the opportunity to buy access and influence. We
urge the members mentioned in this report to support legislation that
offers them an alternative to the corporate money chase."

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce PAC and Chamber lobbyists who have
worked on financial services issues were behind 35 of the scheduled
fundraisers since November, more than any other group. In June, the
Chamber announced a projected $100 million campaign to beat back
federal regulation.

Lobbyists representing the American Bankers Association and that
association's PAC contributed nearly $2 million in the period studied.
Lobbyists and a PAC tied to Citigroup, which is one-third owned by
taxpayers, gave more than $1 million. Lobbyists and PACs associated
with Goldman Sachs, Mortgage Bankers Association of America, J.P.
Morgan Chase and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce each gave more than

The Podesta Group, managed by powerful Democratic lobbyist Tony
Podesta, was the lobbying firm sponsoring the most fundraisers -14.
Podesta's brother, Obama transition team co-chairman John Podesta, was
listed as a co-host of one of these events.

Many of fundraisers were slated to be held at pricey restaurants,
such as Bobby Van's Grill, Johnny's Half Shell, the Caucus Room, The
Monocle and Central Michel Richard. Although the 2007 ethics bill
prohibits lawmakers from accepting free meals from lobbyists, it does
not stop lawmakers from using their campaign funds to pay for the meals.

Just six of the 48 fundraiser honorees have signed on as sponsors of
Fair Elections Now Act, which would offer a public funding system for
congressional elections.

READ the report.

Public Citizen is a nonprofit consumer advocacy organization that champions the public interest in the halls of power. We defend democracy, resist corporate power and work to ensure that government works for the people - not for big corporations. Founded in 1971, we now have 500,000 members and supporters throughout the country.

(202) 588-1000