A grassroots movement with some big name support is calling for Washington’s favorite banker to cut his ties with the Fed. Some 30,000 signatures have been collected on a Change.org petition urging that the chief executive of embattled JPMorgan Chase, Jamie Dimon, resign or be removed from the New York Federal Reserve's board of directors. The petition creator, Simon Johnson, is the former chief economist of the International Monetary Fund. In the past Change.org waged successful campaigns on issues ranging form the Bank of America debit card fee, to working conditions in Apple’s Chinese factories.
The effort comes amid increasing questions about a potential conflict of interest between the banking giant, which has reported a loss of more than $2 billion in a market bet, and its regulators. The New York Times pointed out that the Federal Reserve did not assign a bank examiner to the department that generated the loss, despite the fact that the Fed and the Comptroller of the Currency have had more than 100 employees embedded at JPMorgan Chase.
Anthony Badami, along with his organization the Agenda Project, is helping to coordinate the effort to oust Dimon. "Removing Jamie Dimon from the NY Fed Board is an obvious but important first step in the fight to wrest control away from the big banks," he says. "This is a battle we can win."
Democratic Senate candidate and former Obama administration official Elizabeth Warren has also called for Dimon's resignation along with stronger regulations for banks. "Wall Street banks already have plenty of voices in Congress, and they are working with an army of lobbyists to water-down the rules," said Warren, a bankruptcy expert who served as the first head of the Consumer Financial Protection bureau. She's now running for Senate in Massachusetts.
Meanwhile, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., has introduced the Federal Reserve Independence Act. It includes the following provision: “No employee of a bank holding company or other entity regulated by the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System may serve on the board of directors of any Federal reserve bank.”
Despite the growing opposition to his role at the Federal Reserve, Dimon still has friends in high places. As Sunlight has reported, he's no political newcomer, and has a record of meeting with — and giving money to — all the right people.
Last March, Dimon met with Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner to discuss the Volcker Rule, a proposed rule that tries to hamper speculation with firm money. Ironically, the multi-billion flub by Dimon's bank may shape the final outcome of the rule — but not in the direction he would have liked.
Dimon political contributions include, $35,000 to JPMorgan Chase's PAC and $203,000 to political entities, including $55,000 to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, $10,000 to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, he gave $50,000 to help pay for Obama's inaugural.
He has also given generously to powerful Democrats including: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev, as well as former senators: Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., now the Secretary of State, and Chris Dodd, a Connecticut Democrat who helped author the Dodd-Frank legislation to regulate banks through such innovations as the Volcker Rule. Dimon has also given plenty to Republicans, including $4,000 to Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, the current hot prospect for the GOP vice presidential nomination.