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Response to Tansy_Gold (Original post)

Mon Jan 16, 2012, 10:01 PM

7. Big Banks Have Picked Their Candidate, and It’s Romney By Andrew Dunn

http://www.nationofchange.org/big-banks-have-picked-their-candidate-and-it-s-romney-1326733554

The country's biggest banks are overwhelmingly supporting Mitt Romney's bid for the Republican presidential nomination, an analysis of federal campaign contributions shows. Employees at the five largest U.S. banks by assets, including Bank of America Corp. and Wells Fargo & Co., had given Romney about $600,000 through the first three quarters of 2011, according to the most recent filings available from the Federal Election Commission. The second-largest recipient of bank employee contributions, President Barack Obama, had far less, about $200,000, the analysis showed. The Republican presidential hopeful with the second-highest total, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, dropped out of the race in mid-August. Romney received more from employees of those top five banks than all the other candidates combined, helping make the former Massachusetts governor the best-financed candidate in the Republican nomination battle, which is heating up in South Carolina ahead of Saturday's primary. The contributions are the tip of what observers say will be the most expensive presidential race on record, and the first in which corporations are not limited in what they can spend.

Big banks have long been among the top givers to political campaigns. Part of what's behind this year's spending is the debate over regulating the financial sector, which is driving money to Republican candidates for president and Congress. Charlotte-based Bank of America's employees and PACs have given more than $1 million to candidates for president and Congress this cycle, according to the latest data from the research group Center for Responsive Politics. That's half of what peer Goldman Sachs has donated so far. The commercial banking industry as a whole has donated more than $10 million, the center's data show. The entire finance, insurance and real estate sector is the top political giver this election cycle, with more than $135 million so far. "The financial sector at large is continuing to be the largest sector in terms of campaign contributions and trying to influence policy through political money," said David Donnelly, national campaigns director at Public Campaign, an organization that pushes for campaign reform. "Even as the economy is not doing so well, campaign contributions from the banking sector seem to be increasing."

To be sure, more money could flow to Obama and Democratic congressional candidates once the hard-fought GOP presidential primary is over. But at this point, Republicans have the edge in donations from bankers. Donations from commercial bank employees and PACs to Republican candidates for president and Congress made up 68 percent of the total so far. Should that pattern continue, it would mark the most skewed to one party the spending has been in more than two decades. For all of the 2008 cycle, bankers gave 52 percent of their money to Republicans. The donations have occurred amid debate over banking regulations and the implementation - or possible ultimate repeal - of the Dodd-Frank financial reform law passed in summer 2010. Its provisions range from capping the swipe fees banks can charge merchants on debit card transactions to creation of a new regulatory agency, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Banks also were on pace to spend more than ever before on lobbying to try to weaken or repeal those regulations through the first three quarters of 2011.

"We've seen a massive shift from Obama to the Republican candidates on the part of the financial industry," said Carmen Balber of Consumer Watchdog, a California nonprofit that advocates for taxpayers and consumers. "Obviously, part of that has to do with a competitive primary. But we've definitely seen the financial services industry publicly chastise the president for going after financial reform." (THAT'S GRATITUDE FOR YOU!) Romney has vowed to repeal Dodd-Frank, though he has said there are certain parts of it he supports, such as regulating complex financial instruments called derivatives. It's not just his policy on regulation that draws bankers to him, observers say. As the former head of Bain Capital, another top financial industry political donor, he comes from their world. Romney says his business acumen is one reason he's best suited to lead the country. "Romney really is the candidate of Wall Street," Donnelly said. "He's the most comfortable in the board rooms of any of those."

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LineReply Big Banks Have Picked Their Candidate, and It’s Romney By Andrew Dunn
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