Here’s a man bites dog story. The Washington Independent has reported that banker employees have turned off the cash spigot to federal candidates, with bank employee donations down 97 percent from first quarter 2007. Ninty seven percent! Financial industry employees of the top five banks receiving TARP funds gave less than 3 percent of what they gave during a similar period in the 2008 election cycle.
The Independent notes that the bleak economy is partly to blame, but so may be propriety, of all things. Apparently bankers who received federal bailout money do not want to be seen turning around and funding congressional campaigns. And congressional lawmakers don’t want to be seen receiving it either. Sens. Chris Dodd, chair of the Senate Banking Committee, and Max Baucus, chair of the Senate Finance Committee, have announced they will not accept campaign contributions from the PACs of banks receiving TARP money.
The Independent quotes Bill Allison, Sunlight’s senior fellow, saying that bank employees are trying to keep a low profile. “If you give now, you may be putting a big neon light over your head,” Bill said.
Another likely factor is that bank employees don’t have a lot of extra cash to be throwing around. That, and they fear they may lose their job.
This is quite interesting. Rarely do you see an industry’s campaign giving have such a dramatic drop off.