A top Bank of America executive was caught on camera yesterday whispering to Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX), “Bank of America. We’ll help you out,” as the GOP presidential candidate attended New Hampshire’s Politics and Eggs breakfast. The executive has been identified by the financial website Zero Hedge as James Mahoney, Director of Public Policy for the bank. Mahoney is on the board of directors for the New England Council, the sponsors of the Politics and Eggs breakfast. Watch it:
But far from being just a regional banker, Mahoney is a key national executive. In a statement about the incident, bank spokesman Lawrence Di Rita told Politico the only “help” Mahoney was offering was nonpartisan policy expertise. Di Rita said Mahoney does policy and not lobbying for the bank. This unsolicited reassurance from a top Bank of America emissary comes just days after Perry appeared to publicly threaten the chairman of the Federal Reserve, Ben Bernanke.
Over the years Gov. Perry has benefited greatly from Bank of America’s financial support, and it appears that largesse will continue as he seeks the presidency on a platform of — coincidentally enough — bank deregulation. His gubernatorial campaigns have received $125,900 from Bank of America’s PAC and executives since 2003. During the 2010 cycle alone, Perry’s campaign received $30,160 from the bank’s PAC and executives. According to Texans for Public Justice, Bank of America has also given generously Republican Governors Association, which Perry led until recently and just happens to be his largest donor, contributing $4 million between 2001 and 2010.
It’s no mystery why banking executives are rushing to give Perry their support. Of all the GOP candidates, Perry is the most fervently opposed to banking regulation. As Matt Yglesias pointed out, in his book Fed Up, Perry expresses the extreme view that all banking regulation and consumer financial protection is unconstitutional.
Bank of America has been in a world of financial trouble recently, with its stock down more than 50 percent since January, as it faces a growing wave of mortgage litigation. In recent weeks it has been engaged “in the corporate version of a yard sale.” The bank announced today that it will be cutting at least 10,000 jobs, laying off 3,500 workers this quarter alone. As ThinkProgress has reported, until now Mitt Romney has been the candidate with the most backing from Wall Street.