Friday, June 4, 2010

1,400 with ties to Congress now lobbying for financial industry

A study by Public Citizen and the Center for Responsive Politics has found more than 1,400 former Congress members, ex-federal employees, and Capitol Hill aides registered as financial services industry lobbyists since 2009. Heavy hitters include former Senators Robert J. Dole and Trent Lott, and ex-Reps Richard K. Armey, Dick Gephardt, and J. Dennis Hastert.

For every sitting member of Congress, says the study, there are three former colleagues or government staffers lobbying for banks.

Today's Washington Post quoted David Arkush, director of Public Citizen's Congress Watch division, saying "Wall Street hires former members of Congress and their staff for a reason," especially at a time when lawmakers are debating a historic overhaul of the way Wall Street does business. "These people are influential because they have personal relationships with current members and staff," Arkush said. "It's hard to say no to your friends, but that's what Congress needs to do."

What do we need to do? Push for passage of the Fair Elections Now Act, for one. Public funding for a necessary public work--election of a representative government--undercuts the ability of a corporate elite to bribe our legislators with donations--or bully them with the threat of funding an opponent. And a 28th Amendment banning corporate personhood would get the toxic notion that money is speech out of our political system as well.

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