Freshman Orientation

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There will be a lot of new faces on Capitol Hill come January and as The Hill reports this morning, their first few months will be like the first day you sign up for Facebook: friend requests galore.

Today's story focused on donations from the financial services industry to freshman senators. Banks and their friends and lobbyists know they may get knocked around a bit soon and in past election cycles have started to switch their allegiances. Prior to the Democratic takeover in 2006, these industries gave big money to Republicans. Once they saw the writing on the wall, the financial industry starting moving some of their money over to Democrats.

According to the article, "in 2008, finance and credit card companies gave 56 percent of their donations to Democrats," a pretty big change from 2002 when the industry gave 60 percent of their donations to Republicans.

Campaign contributions helped to put us in this mess to begin with, and some are worried. Here's Ira Rheingold, head of the National Association of Consumer Advocates:

"It scares me. The fact that they contributed a lot should not weigh heavily in policymaking. But we live in Washington and it's hard not to be cynical when we see that the people who are going to be charged with regulating the industry and restricting the way they act have received a lot of money from them."

According to recent polling, voters are worried too. When offered the statement, "Large campaign contributions from the banking industry to members of Congress have resulted in lax oversight and have been a major factor in causing the current financial crisis on Wall Street," 70 percent of survey responds agreed they did.

We'll have to see what happens.