When negotiations over the Dodd-Frank financial reform law reached their final stages, Democrats were desperate to find a few Republican votes to overcome a filibuster in the Senate. Ultimately, three Republicans senators — Sens. Scott Brown (R-MA), Olympia Snowe (R-ME), and Susan Collins (R-ME) — supported the Dodd-Frank legislation.
But before he gave his approval, Brown extracted a few concessions. First, he forced Democrats to strip from a bill a bank tax that would have raised $19 billion to pay for the implementation of the law. He also pushed to water down a key reform — the Volcker rule — that was aimed at preventing banks from making risky trades with dollars backed by the government. Both of Brown’s wishes were ultimately agreed to.
At the time, Brown stated that his opposition to those two provisions had to do with their potential effect on job creation. But according to an analysis in the Boston Globe, during the three weeks Brown was working to water down financial reform, campaign contributions from banks and investment banks “poured in“:
From mid-June until the Fourth of July, according to a Globe analysis of his campaign finance reports, the Massachusetts senator took in $140,000 from banks and investment firms and their executives, including companies based in the state, such as MassMutual and State Street Corp. That is 400 percent more than the $28,000 received on average by all Republican senators during the same three weeks.
As the money poured in, Brown and his Senate staff were working both publicly and behind the scenes to scuttle $19 billion in fees on the financial industry that would have paid for part of the regulatory overhaul, and to weaken a provision intended to curb certain types of investment activities by banks and insurance companies.
When he came into office, Brown promised that there would be “no more closed-door meetings or back-room deals.” However, it seems he was willing to bend his own rules, once Wall Street came calling with its wish list.
And this wasn’t the first time that the financial services industry flooded Brown’s coffers with cash when it saw an opportunity to influence financial reform. In fact, a ThinkProgress analysis revealed that banks lavished Brown’s campaign with 11th hour contributions and a significant get-out-the-vote effort, prompting Brown to initially oppose Dodd-Frank.
Cross-posted at The Wonk Room.