Firms hired 2.7 former government staffers for every member of Congress — in one year
Want to know why Congress tends to tread lightly when it comes to regulating major US banks and financial services firms?
Perhaps you need look no further than the number of lobbyists the financial services industry employs. According to a report released Thursday by Public Citizen and the Center for Responsive Politics, the financial industry hired 1,447 former federal employees to lobby on its behalf in 2009 alone.
Seventy-three of those are former members of Congress. According to the report, this means that there is one former member of Congress for every eight current members of Congress working for money management firms.
“This small army of registered financial services sector lobbyists includes at least 73 former members of Congress, of whom 17 served on the banking committees of either the U.S. House of Representatives or the Senate,” Public Citizen said in their release. “At least 66 industry lobbyists worked for these committees as staffers, while 82 additional lobbyists once worked for congressional members who currently serve on these key committees.”
“Further, at least 42 financial services lobbyists formerly served in some capacity in the U.S. Treasury Department,” the group added. “At least seven served in the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, including two former comptrollers.”
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Companies pay a premium for lobbyists whoÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve spun through the revolving door because it can be a small price to pay relative to the huge payoff if they can shape legislation,” Sheila Krumholz, executive director of the Center for Responsive Politics, said in a statement. “These lobbyists tap insider knowledge and personal relationships, knowing that their old friends and former co-workers wonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t want to let them down.Ã¢â‚¬Â
In May, the Associated Press also noted that the financial services industry has outdone every other industry in donations to political campaigns.
“The financial sector’s influence in Washington reflects its enormous donations and lobbying,” the wire service wrote. “Over the past two decades, it’s given $2.3 billion to federal candidates. It’s outdone every other industry in lobbying since 1998, having spent $3.8 billion.”
On Friday, The Washington Post gave a run down of the most prominent names now working for the industry. They include two former Senate majority leaders and two former House speakers — the most powerful legislative positions in the land.
Some of the biggest names highlighted in the study include former Senate majority leaders Robert J. Dole (R-Kan.) and Trent Lott (R-Miss.); former House majority leaders Richard K. Armey (R-Texas) and Richard A. Gephardt (D-Mo.); and former House speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.). Ex-Rep. Vin Weber (R-Minn.) has the largest number of financial-services clients of any former lawmaker, representing 13 companies and groups, including Deloitte, Ernst & Young and the Real Estate Roundtable, the report shows. The revolving door is evident in almost every major issue that comes before Congress, from regulation of the coal industry to the auto industry to the health-care sector. But the sheer scale of the overlap within the financial sector is remarkable: For every sitting member of Congress, the study shows, there are three former colleagues or government staffers lobbying for banks.