Tea Party Congressmen Accept Cash From Bailed-Out Bankers

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After the 2010 election, Public Campaign Action Fund looked at the Wall Street campaign cash behind all of the new “Tea Party” members of Congress. In our report, released just days before these new members were sworn in, we wrote:

“…the fact that those candidates were also reliant on Wall Street money to fund their advertising campaigns suggests that the winning candidates now have two distinct, and conflicting, constituencies: the people that elected them, and the special interests that funded their campaigns.”

Businessweek reports today that the banks may have won that conflict:

“Tea Party favorites such as Stephen Fincher of Tennessee were swept into Congress on a wave of anger over government-funded bailouts of banks.

“Now those incumbents are collecting thousands of dollars for re-election campaigns from the same Wall Street firms whose excesses they criticized. They have taken no significant steps to curb them or prevent future taxpayer-financed rescues.”

...

"Still, the lawmakers haven’t passed, considered or even introduced legislation to address concerns about 'too-big-to- fail' banks voiced by members of both parties and such Federal Reserve bank presidents as Richard Fisher of Dallas and Jeffrey Lacker of Richmond, Virginia."

The financial sector is the biggest giver in Washington. Here are some key facts about Wall Street and the 112th Congress:

  • Rep. Stephen Fincher (R-Tenn.), mentioned in the article, has received $296,000 in campaign cash from the finance, insurance, and real estate (FIRE) industry so far this cycle, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. That’s a 16.5 percent increase from what he received from the industry for the entire 2010 cycle.
  • According to the article, the PACs of five big banks that got bailout money have given $169,499 to the 10 freshman Tea Party lawmakers that serve on the House Financial Services Committee.
  • Roughly two-thirds, or $34.9 million, of Wall Street money to House members this election cycle has gone to Republicans.
  • In 2011, the financial industry spent $476.9 million on lobbying. In the first three months of 2012, the industry spent $118.7 million.

PCAF Executive Director David Donnelly nicely sums up the situation and the problem of our current system: “Candidates who run the first time on an aggressive platform trying to protect voters against special interests then have to change their tune to pay the piper and listen to those who fund their campaigns.”

It's hard to take on Wall Street by day when you're asking them for cash at night.