Wall Street is paying big time to influence this election.
The financial industry is on track to break its 2008 campaign spending record of $170 million, according to data from the Center for Responsive Politics cited by CNNMoney. So far, Wall Street has spent $164 million donating to candidates and political groups. And CRP estimates the total tab to be huge with donors $2.5 billion on the election overall.
The top eight companies with employees donating to Mitt Romney are banks, according to CRP data, while Wells Fargo and JPMorgan Chase made it into the top 20 firms with employees donating to President Obama's campaign.
Wall Street’s influence on politicians and regulators has come under scrutiny since the financial crisis and during recent election cycles, and the news that the financial industry is shelling out record cash probably won’t help.
Yet the amount of cash Wall Street is pouring into elections is poised to grow. The American Bankers Association is planning to set up a non-profit that would allow its members to send money to pro-Wall Street super PACs anonymously, according to Bloomberg. The fund, which officials say will raise several million dollars, will focus on 12 key Senate races.
Efforts to curb financial regulations have come up against particularly intense opposition in the Senate, and according to The New York Times, the financial industry also spent more than $100 million last year on lobbying, as politicians and regulators finalized new financial regulations.
But even though politicians are willing to accept cash from bankers, after the financial crisis and subsequent bailouts, they’re a bit hesitant about being seen with them. Financial institutions are playing less of a role in the Democratic and Republican conventions this year, according to American Banker. That’s compared to 2008, when Bank of America was an honoree at a swanky party at the DNC and JPMorgan Chase hosted a reception there.
While Obama may not want to be seen publicly with Wall Street anymore, the president still took pains to woo the financial industry’s cash. That may be because many of the companies with employee donors that have ditched Obama for Romney are banks.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this post incorrectly stated that the CRP estimated that Wall Street would spend $2.5 billion on the elections this year. The CRB estimates that overall election spending will total $2.5 billion.