Lobbyists representing seven of Wall Street's top ten bailout beneficiaries and their trade associations made more than $6 million in campaign contributions to members of Congress -- and hosted no fewer than 70 fundraising parties between Election Day and June, according to a new analysis by Public Citizen.
"This is what [Senator Dick] Durbin probably meant when he said the banks own the place," said Public Citizen's Taylor Lincoln in an interview with the Huffington Post.
Durbin, an Illinois Democrat, remarked that banks "frankly own the place" as he struggled to drum up support for bankruptcy reform among his Senate colleagues back in April. He called banks "the most powerful lobby on Capitol Hill."
Public Citizen analyzed campaign contributions and details about political fundraisers gleaned from invitations obtained by the nonpartisan Sunlight Foundation and posted on its website, www.politicalpartytime.org. There's no requirement to disclose details about fundraising events, so there might have been a lot more than 70 fundraisers for the industry. (The Huffington Post makes use of the Sunlight Foundation's invitations as well, visiting these fundraisers in an effort to cover lobbying as it happens.)
Here's a list showing the industry's biggest party animals:
Lobbyists representing the American Bankers Association gave the most of any one group, dishing out nearly $1.96 million to members of Congress from the fall to the summer, followed by Citigroup at just over $1 million and Goldman Sachs at $777,476.
The House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Banking Committee were the top targets, with ten and seven members, respectively, being toasted at fundraisers.
Superlobbyist Tony Podesta and employees of his fast-growing firm, the Podesta Group, hosted 14 parties -- more than anyone else. Public Citizen's report notes that there would have been one more, but Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.) canceled an event after it came out that the invitation listed "the Select Committee on Intelligence for the first course" for dinner and the "choice of Appropriations, Judiciary or Rules committees" for the other courses.
"This study shows how the lobbyists who party with Congress are doing it for a reason -- they have a lot at stake financially," said the Sunlight Foundation's Nancy Watzman.
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