Former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA), who resigned last month after losing renomination to an underfunded college professor, spent much of his 13-plus years in the U.S. Congress advancing the agenda of Wall Street investment firms. This week, he announced that he will be joining a Wall Street investment bank as its new vice chairman.
Cantor will be joining Moelis & Co., the investment bank said, to “provide strategic counsel to the Firm’s corporate and institutional clients on key issues,” to “play a leading role in client development,” and to “advise clients on strategic matters.” The announcement press release praised Cantor as a “leading voice on the economy and job creation,” who worked in Congress “to lower taxes, eliminate excessive regulation, strengthen small businesses, and encourage entrepreneurship.” The deal reportedly includes a $1.4 million signing bonus and at least a $2 million annual compensation package.
In practical terms, this meant his voting record frequently mirrored Wall Street’s interests. David Stockman, himself a former Republican Congressman who served as director of Ronald Reagan’s Office of Management and Budget, described Cantor as “Bagman For Wall Street.” He voted for the Troubled Asset Relief Program in 2008, which bailed out the sector after the collapse of the subprime mortgage market. He forcefully opposed the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, warning that the “wave of new regulatory agencies and regulations threatens to smother business activity and restrict the flow of credit.” After becoming majority leader in 2011, he vowed to stop the “barreling train” of Dodd-Frank implementation and pushed for a legislative changes to de-fang the law.
In his primary, his Tea Party opponent also criticized Cantor for his close ties to Wall Street, arguing “All of the investment banks, up in New York and D.C., they should have gone to jail,” but instead went on “Eric [Cantor’s] Rolodex” and sent him big checks.
Wall Street firms rewarded Cantor for his stalwart support with millions in campaign contributions. According to Public Campaign, Cantor received more than $7.9 million in Wall Street interests, including more than $3 million in the 2010 midterms alone. The Center for Responsive Politics ranked financial firms and their employees the most generous industry for giving to his campaign coffers, since 2012 (nearly $1.4 million).
Cantor is the latest in a long string of former members of Congress to ride through the “revolving door” to the sectors they once oversaw. Former Senate Banking Chairman Phil Gramm (R-TX) went from Congress to UBS, former House Banking subcommittee chairman Rick Lazio (R-NY) became a lobbyist for JPMorgan Chase, and former Rep. Larry LaRocco (D-ID) lobbied for the American Bankers Association.