This morning, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) declared his opposition to the financial reform bill before the Senate. McConnell claimed to have principled objections to the bill, saying that it “institutionalizes” bailouts of Wall Street and that it would give the Federal Reserve “enhanced emergency lending authority that is far too open to abuse.”
What McConnell did not mention was that, last week, he traveled alongside National Republican Senatorial Committee chairman Sen. John Cornyn (TX) to New York City for a private meeting with elite hedge fund managers and other Wall Street executives. The purpose of the meeting between the top Republicans and the financial executives was to enlist “Wall Street’s help” in funding Republican campaigns in the fall and killing any tough financial reform:
As a financial reform bill starts to take shape in Washington, two key lawmakers came to New York City last week to explain what it means for Wall Street, and how financial executives might help prevent some of its least market-friendly aspects from becoming law by electing more Republicans, FOX Business Network has learned.
About 25 Wall Street executives, many of them hedge fund managers, sat down for a private meeting Thursday afternoon with two of the most powerful Republican lawmakers in Congress: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, and John Cornyn, the senior senator from Texas who runs the National Republican Senatorial Committee, one of the primary fundraising arms of the Republican Party. [...]
In order to assure [Republican electoral] gains, and add even more, McConnell and Cornyn made it clear they need Wall Street’s help.
Separately, House Republican Conference Chairman Mike Pence (R-IN) met with hedge fund managers this morning and told them that “Democrats’ solution for financial reform consists of two words: government control.” He added, “America will continue to be the home of freedom and the free market; the place where liberty prevails.”
As the Wonk Room’s Pat Garofalo writes, Republicans are making “a habit” out of meeting with lobbyists to kill important reforms. In June 2009, Senate Republicans worked closely with health care lobbyists to kill the public option. In the same month they also organized a “hearing” with energy industry representatives designed around defeating cap-and-trade. In December, the House Republican leadership huddled with more than 100 financial lobbyists to debate the strategy for killing financial reform. And in February of this year, House Minority Leader Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) met with JP Morgan chief Jamie Dimon to try to convince him to funnel funds to the Republican Party after the Democrats started getting tougher on Wall Street. Boehner last month told financial lobbyists to not let “punk staffers” take advantage of them, and Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) asked bankers to donate $10,000 to Rep. Roy Blunt’s (R-MO) Senate campaign.
It should be noted that some Democrats have continued to court corporate interests as well. Earlier this year, twelve Democratic senators spent a weekend fundraising at a private retreat in Miami Beach with lobbyists from the American Bankers Association, drug companies, and defense contractors. (HT: OpenLeft)