Huffpost Politics

Barclays, Other Big Bank Support For Mitt Romney Criticized

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As Mitt Romney raises money in London from bankers and lobbyists connected to the Libor rate-fixing scandal, liberal advocacy group Americans United for Change released a web video on Thursday attacking the presumptive Republican nominee's close ties to big banks.

The video combines multiple news clips scrutinizing Romney's decision to gather checks from officials at London-based bank Barclays, which agreed to a fine of more than $450 million in July for manipulating the Libor rate -- the most widely used interest rate in the world, tied to hundreds of trillions of dollars in loans and financial securities.

In the video, the writing of "big checks" for Romney by executives of Barclays and other large banks is linked to his repeated pledge to repeal the Dodd-Frank financial reform law. The video asserts that such a repeal would free the banks from needed regulation and ignore "the reckless actions of these institutions that led to the financial collapse that cost 8 million Americans their jobs."

While in London on Thursday, Romney will attend a fundraising reception, followed by a dinner. The dinner was originally to be hosted by then-Barclays boss Robert Diamond, who pulled out of the event in light of the Libor scandal that also forced him from his job. Diamond's replacement, Patrick Durkin, has also raised $1.1 million (£700,700) for Romney's 2012 presidential bid.

The bank's apparent foray into politics has ignited the ire of several members of the United Kingdom's Parliament, who earlier this month pressed Barclays executives to stop donating and have criticized their scheduled attendance at Thursday's fundraisers.

The scrutiny over the bank executives' participation in Romney's fundraisers even prompted Barclays Vice Chairman Cyrus Ardalan to write the MPs on Thursday to say that the bank does not officially endorse any candidate:

"I would like to clarify that all political activity undertaken by Barclays' US employees, including personal fundraising for specific candidates, is done so in a personal capacity, and not on behalf of Barclays. Barclays is politically non-partisan, makes no political donations nor seeks to influence the political activities of its employees."

That explanation is unlikely to move the MPs, who, at the beginning of this month, signed a parliamentary "early day motion" calling on Barclays executives to suspend donations to Romney in the wake of the Libor scandal. After signing the motion, MP Margaret Ritchie, of the Social Democratic and Labour Party, told The Huffington Post it was "deeply worrying" that so many of the bank's executives had contributed to the candidate.

"There need to be proper avenues of accountability and scrutiny between politicians, the banks and the public they serve, not £75,000 per head fundraising dinners in Central London," Ritchie said.

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