Last week LittleSis reported that Rep. Melissa Bean receives significant support from the Wall Street interests who helped weaken new financial reform legislation. One such supporter is the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (SIFMA), Wall Street’s primary lobbying organization. SIFMA funds many of the New Democrats who helped pass the Bean amendment, as well as several key leaders in both the House and the Senate.
SIFMA was formed in 2007 through the merger of two separate lobbying groups, the Securities Industry Association and the Bond Market Association. Following the merger, the new organization took steps to revamp its lobbying operation to better influence the Democratic Congress, hiring Scott DeFife (a former senior policy advisor to House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer), Michael Paese (a former staffer for Barney Frank), and Ken Bensten (a Democratic insider and former Representative).
Records at OpenSecrets.org show that SIFMA has made significant donations to most of the politicians who shaped the bill that passed the house last week. Between the 2008 and 2010 election cycles the top two House recipients of SIFMA money are Melissa Bean and Joseph Crowley. Bean’s amendment passed with the support of the New Democrat Coalition, of which Bean is the Whip and Crowley is the Chair. The New Democrat PAC also received a SIFMA donation of $10,000 in 2008.
Spencer Bachus, the Republican Ranking Member on the Finance Committee, and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, who brokered the deal between Frank and the New Democrats, also received maximum allowable $10,000 donations for 2008, and have already received some funds for the 2010 cycle. Other key figures who maxed out with SIFMA in 2008 include House Minority leader John Boehner, Minority Whip Eric Cantor, Barney Frank, and Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charlie Rangel.
In the Senate, Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd is working on his own version of the legislation. His links to disgraced organizations like Countrywide, Fannie Mae, and AIG have cast serious doubt on his 2010 reelection prospects . Dodd received $16,000 from SIFMA and its predecessor organizations during the 2004, 2006, and 2008 election cycles, but has received nothing yet for 2010. Perhaps the current wave of anti-Wall Street populism will pressure him to buck his Wall Street friends.
The top Senate recipient of SIFMA funds since 2004 is Majority Leader Harry Reid ($25,500), who also faces possible defeat next year. Following Reid are Finance Committee Ranking Member Richard Shelby ($21,500), lame-duck Bernanke hater Jim Bunning ($20,500), and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell ($20,000). The list of top SIFMA recipients also includes a number of Republican Senators who either lost reelection or retired since the Democratic takeover in 2006 (Gordon Smith, Jim Talent, Rick Santorum, Mel Martinez, Trent Lott, John Sununu, Mike DeWine, Norm Coleman, and Conrad Burns), so while SIFMA’s influence over the Senate leadership in both parties appears to remain strong, Wall Street’s influence in the Senate may be less than what it was before 2006.
Other figures to watch as the Senate takes up the legislation include the following:
- Banking Committee member Bob Bennett faces a primary challenge organized by Conservative activists in 2010, and has already received $3,000 from SIFMA.
- Banking Committee Member and Wall Street defender Chuck Schumer has already received $5,000 from SIFMA this year.
- Banking Committee member and Tea Party favorite Jim DeMint, who received $10,000 from the Bond Markets Association for his 2004 campaign, has been ignoring his upcoming reelection bid at home in favor of building a more national profile.
- Blanche Lincoln, who received a combined $14,500 from SIFMA’s predecessor organizations for her 2004 reelection campaign, has publicly opposed the Obama administration on issues like health care reform and Guantanamo detainees in preparation for what is expected to be a very tough campaign next year.
- Independent Joe Lieberman received $10,000 for his tumultuous 2006 campaign, and is currently making a name for himself as a strong ally of health insurance companies.
- Chuck Grassley received $5,000 for his landslide reelection in 2004, and has already received $2,500 for 2010. Grassley might need all the money he can get; he’s up for reelection in 2010, and may face a primary challenge supported by right-wing activists.
- Recent Democratic reconvert Arlen Specter received $5,000 from the Bond Market Association when running as a Republican in 2004. Specter’s bid for reelection in 2010 appears difficult, as he faces strong candidates in both the primary and general elections.