WASHINGTON â€” Last Wednesday, Representative David Scott, Democrat of Georgia, mingled with insurance and financial executives and other supporters at a lunchtime fund-raiser in his honor at a chic Washington wine bar before rushing out to cast a House vote.
Nearby, supporters of Representative Michael E. Capuano, Democrat of Massachusetts, gathered that evening at a Capitol Hill town house for a $1,000-a-head fund-raiser. Just as that was wrapping up, Representative Peter T. King, Republican of New York, was feted by campaign donors at nearby Nationals Park at a game against the Mets.
It was just another day in the nonstop fund-raising cycle for members of the House Financial Services Committee, which has become a magnet for money from Wall Street and other deep-pocketed contributors, especially as Congress moves to finalize the most sweeping newfinancial regulations in seven decades.
Executives and political action committees from Wall Street banks, hedge funds, insurance companies and related financial sectors have showered Congressional candidates with more than $1.7 billion in the last decade, with much of it going to the financial committees that oversee the industryâ€™s operations.
In return, the financial sector has enjoyed virtually front-door access and what critics say is often favorable treatment from many lawmakers. But that relationship, advantageous to both sides for many years, is now being tested in ways rarely seen, as the nationâ€™s major financial firms seek to call in their political chits to stem regulatory changes they believe will hurt their business.
The biggest flash point for many Wall Street firms is the tough restrictions on the trading ofÂ derivatives imposed in the Senate bill approved Thursday night. Derivatives are securities whose value is based on the price of other assets like corn, soybeans or company stock.
The financial industry was confident that a provision that would force banks to spin off their derivatives businesses would be stripped out, but in the final rush to pass the bill, that did not happen.
The opposition comes not just from the financial industry. The chairman of the Federal Reserve and other senior banking regulators opposed the provision, and top Obama administration officials have said they would continue to push for it to be removed.
To read more, visit: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/23/us/politics/23lobby.html
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