Senators Pledging to Block Wall Street Watchdog Have Received $143 Million in Financial Industry Cash
The 43 U.S. Senators who signed a letter to President Barack Obama pledging to block Richard Cordray’s re-appointment to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) have received nearly $143 million in campaign contributions from the finance, insurance, and real estate sector—those who’d benefit the most from a weakened CFPB.
On Friday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) joined 42 of his colleagues in saying he will block Cordray’s appointment unless several concessions are made that would weaken the agency’s ability to hold financial industry actors accountable for bad acts. It's an agency with teeth, holding big banks and other financial companies accountable, perfect reasons for the industry to want its acolytes in Congress to weaken it.
Here are the facts on the letter signers’ Wall Street cash:
- The 43 Senators have received $143 million in industry cash during their time in Washington.
- Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), boosted by his 2008 presidential bid, is the top recipient of financial industry cash of those signing the letter, with $36.7 million in donations from the industry. McConnell is second with $7.4 million in donations. Sen. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), the ranking member of the Senate Banking committee, has received $2.4 million in industry cash.
- Two of the first enforcement actions by the agency were settlements with Capital One and American Express. McConnell has received at least $121,500 in campaign contributions from Capital One donors and $69,950 from American Express, according to Public Campaign Action Fund's report, "Cashing in on Obstruction."
- The six Senators recently elected, or re-elected, in November who signed the letter--Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Dean Heller (R-Nev.), and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.)--received nearly $7 million altogether in industry donations in the 2012 cycle. Hatch tops this list with $2 million raised from the industry for his last election.
- Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), Senate Minority Whip, has a birthday fundraiser on Tuesday night hosted by lobbyists who represented financial industry companies in 2012: Doyce Boesch lobbied for Fidelity Investments and Jamie Gregory worked for the National Association of Realtors. Cornyn has raised $5.5 million in financial industry cash during his career.
Sens. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio) are the two Republican Senators who did not sign the letter. Though, as Politico reported on Monday, Rob Portman has been one of the party’s leading emissaries to Wall Street donors to “assuage” their concerns over the party’s drubbing in 2012.
Public Campaign Action Fund analyzed data from the Center for Responsive Politics (CRP) and Sunlight Foundation’s Political Party Time for this report. The analysis includes career fundraising totals.