Stealth Bailout Lobbying
Even after the collapse of the financial industry and the subsequent bailout, firms injected with government money still found time and money to host important lawmakers by paying for charity events in their honor. The Hill reports that eight companies receiving the bank methadone we call bailout money spent $366,000 on events, both charitable and non, that honored or featured lawmakers. (All of this information was made available by disclosure requirements in the Honest Leadership and Open Government Act of 2007.)
Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Wells Fargo, and Citigroup all helped pay for a dinner for the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce that featured House Financial Services Chair Barney Frank as the keynote speaker. Huntington Bancshares hosted Sen. Sherrod Brown as the guest speaker for a senior management meeting. General Motors, GMAC, and Chrysler all made charitable contributions including large sums to the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation. And Popular Inc. will sponsor the annual gala of the Congressional Hispanic Leadership Institute (a Republican Hispanic organization).
Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac spent the largest sum of all the organizations and spent money on charitable contributions to or event hosting with the following lawmakers: “Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) and Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) and Reps. Carolyn Kilpatrick (D-Mich.), James Clyburn (D-S.C.), Geoff Davis (R-Ky.), Ed Pastor (D-Ariz.), John Tanner (D-Tenn.) and John Boehner (R-Ohio) and then-Rep. Jim McCrery (R-La.).”
The evidence continues to pile up in favor of the Feinstein-Snowe bill to restrict TARP spending on political influence. It’s good to see that more senators have signed on as co-sponsors of this bill.