As we near an important vote on whether to hold Wall Street accountable, Republican leadership apparently felt the need to huddle in secret with Wall Street lobbyists yet again. Senator Cornyn’s latest closed-door meeting with Wall Street lobbyists comes exactly two weeks after he and Senator McConnell went to New York City to meet in secret with two-dozen Wall Street executives – a secret meeting that occurred shortly before Senator McConnell redoubled his efforts to protect Wall Street, and water down efforts to hold Wall Street accountable for the reckless gambling that led to 8 million Americans losing their jobs, and millions more losing their savings and livelihoods. VIDEO: Bank Lobbyists Huddle For Another Secret Meeting With GOP Senators
Earlier today, President Obama traveled to New York to tell the nation’s most influential bankers to call off their “battalions of financial industry lobbyists” and embrace a new regulatory structure meant to avert another economic crisis. But around the same time back in Washington, D.C., bank lobbyists hosted a fundraiser for Senate Republicans, including Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), who has become the Republican liaison for Wall Street fundraising.
The invitation to the fundraiser, obtained by the Party Time blog of the Sunlight Foundation, shows that the it was hosted by lobbyists Wendy Grubb, Kirsten Chadwick, Scott Reed, and a variety of corporate PACs. Grubb is a top lobbyist for Citigroup, a bank that took taxpayer TARP funds and has yet to repay them. Chadwick, a former staffer to Rep. Roy Blunt (R-MO), is a lobbyist for Zurich Financial Group, a financial services conglomerate.
ThinkProgress, along with several other journalists, waited outside of the fundraiser at the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) building. Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) walked quickly past reporters into his car, refusing to take questions. Both Sens. Cornyn and George Lemieux (R-FL) dodged reporters by driving into the NRSC’s underground lot. Although ThinkProgress tried to ask both GOP lawmakers and the other attendees of the fundraiser about regulation reform legislation, only Charlie Black spoke to us. Black is a longtime corporate lobbyist who now represents a variety of investment banks, including Goldman Sachs, within a trade group called the “Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association.” ThinkProgress attempted to talk to the attendees of the event, but everyone other than Black refused to even provide their names. The video below, produced by Victor Zapanta, documents our failed attempts to get fundraiser attendees to talk about the event as they fled the scene.
Last week, Republican Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) met with elite hedge fund managers to enlist “Wall Street’s help” in bankrolling Republican campaigns this year. Shortly after the meeting, McConnell pledged to block financial reform and blasted it using an absurd talking point refuted by members of his own party. Last night, Karl Rove secretly met with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, another trade group that represents big banks and opposes reform.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) challenged Republicans to stop doing “the big bankers’ bidding.” With GOP Senators still running to bank lobbyists for campaign cash, the public will find out where lawmakers stand as the Senate takes up reform next week.