Romney Co-Chair Abandons Campaign, Will Head Group Lobbying Against Wall Street Reform

Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty announced Thursday morning that he would step down as co-chair of Mitt Romney’s campaign to become the head of the Financial Services Roundtable, a trade organization that represents the 100 largest financial services companies in the country.

Pawlenty tenure will begin as the group continues to lobby against the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reforms that are starting to take effect. Among his new causes will be defeating the law’s price controls on debit card fees and the Volcker Rule, which is intended to keep banks from engaging in the risky behavior that led to the industry’s collapse in 2008. FSR has also taken aim at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the bill’s provisions for whistleblowers.

In their new partnership, FSR and the former governor seem to be ignoring Pawlenty’s inflammatory anti-bank rhetoric during his failed presidential run. In 2011, Pawlenty wholeheartedly condemned Wall Street on the campaign trail, declaring, “Get your snout out of the trough just like everybody else.” A Pawlenty presidency, he said, would not tolerate cozy relationships between banks and politicians:

We will get rid of all the deductions, credits, or exemptions, and you will compete not based on your connections to a congressman, but connections whether you can convince consumers if you have a good product. If you cannot do that, you should not be in business. Do not look for government to bail you out. You either compete and succeed in the market or you do not.

In spite of this rhetoric, Pawlenty opposed Dodd-Frank in 2010, often pushing the GOP’s false talking point that the law promoted bank bailouts. “The notion that we’re going to have privately held entities in this country that can’t go out of business, to me, is troublesome and philosophically concerning,” he said in 2010.

Romney released a statement shortly after the announcement praising Pawlenty, saying, “His new position advancing the integrity of our financial system is vital to the future of our country.”