The financial services industry spent more than $5 billion on political contributions and lobbying from 1998 through 2008, according to a study released today.
The study, issued by Essential Information, a Washington-based non-profit that seeks to curb corporate influence, and the Los Angeles-based Consumer Education Foundation, a non-profit consumer organization, blames influence peddling for the financial crisis.
Wall Street investment firms, commercial banks, hedge funds, real estate companies and insurers made $1.7 billion in political contributions and spent another $3.4 billion on lobbyists, the study found.
Securities firms spent more than $504 million in campaign contributions and $576 million on lobbying over the period.
Spending by the major New York-based firms was:
The Goldman Sachs Group Inc.: $46 million
Merrill Lynch & Co. Inc.: $68 million
Citigroup Inc.: $108 million
JPMorgan Chase & Co.: $65 million
In addition, Bank of America Corp. of Charlotte, N.C., spent $39 million; the former Wachovia Corp. of Charlotte spent $15.9 million; and Wells Fargo & Co. of San Francisco spent $21.9 million.
Lawmakers and regulators “responded to the legal bribes from the financial sector” by rolling back standards, barring new rules to address “trashing enforcement efforts,” Robert Weissman, director of Essential Information and the lead author of the report, said in a statement.
Only $46 million in bribes from Goldman Sachs? Such a deal!
Hank Paulson's "By Monday I need $700 billion, no strings attached" ransom note last fall — before the election — seems literally a steal. Talk about leverage! A mere $46 million will buy you $700 billion in deleveraging magic, which you can use as a wand to wish away your catastrophic management of the global financial system. Killing Lehman and "saving" AIG was all part of Paulson's plan to secretly save Goldman, Lehman's rival and AIG's pivotal trading partner, which was facing disaster thanks to Paulson's own leadership as former CEO.
(By analogy, you could regard Cheney's whoops-no-WMD adventure in Iraq as a way of secretly saving no-bid Halliburton, which was likewise facing disaster thanks to his own leadership as former CEO. Apparently "public service" is the last resort of Republican CEOs who fuck their companies up so badly that they feel obliged to empty the US Treasury to compensate for their multitrillion dollar errors of judgment and outright chicanery.)