A group of "New Democrats" led by Representative Melissa Bean has reportedly won major concessions in the financial reform fight:
The compromise reached late Wednesday between pro-reform House Democrats and the banker-friendly wing of the party could significantly weaken consumer protection in states where lawmakers support tougher rules against tactics such as predatory lending and excessive ATM fees than historically submissive federal regulators.
Barney Frank chalked up Bean’s intransigence to the lobbying of a generic group of "big banks," without providing much in the way of details. The Huffington Post has pointed to the amount of campaign cash flowing from Wall Street, and Public Citizen released a report on the subject on Tuesday.
But "big banks" have a human side, after all; Bean draws her support from real, live, human beings. And a closer look at who these people are suggests that the Representative’s efforts are backed by financial elites tightly linked to President Obama.
Bean’s Wall Street is located not in New York but Obama’s Chicago (she represents the northern suburbs). The Representative draws heavily on a group of mega-donors that includes close friends of the first family, elite "bundlers" of Obama campaign cash, and two individuals who have been, at various points, rumored to be up for cabinet-level posts.
Two of these mega-donors are John W Rogers and Mellody Hobson, executives at mutual fund company Ariel Capital Management, who have given more than $14,200 combined to Bean, including $4600 in July 2009 alone, according to OpenSecrets.
Rogers is a personal friend of Barack and Michelle Obama, and his ex-wife currently serves as the White House social secretary (yes – that social secretary; she also shares a Georgetown apartment with Valerie Jarrett). Hobson has been a fundraiser for Obama since his first campaign, in 1995, and was rumored for an economic advisory post in the administration.
Obama’s "favorite banker," JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon, recently rumored to be a possible successor to Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, is also a major Bean donor, giving her $5900 since 2005 and $2000 in 2009 alone. Dimon is in New York now, but spent a critical period heading US Bank in Chicago, where he appears to have gotten close to Jarrett, Rahm Emanuel, and other Obama insiders.
JP Morgan executive Bill Daley (brother of Richard), another major political force in the windy city, has given Bean $8520 over the years, and $2000 this year. Daley is also a key Obama backer and was rumored to be a candidate for Secretary of Commerce, at one point.
JP Morgan has a lot riding on the financial reform fight, especially on regulation of derivatives. That may explain Dimon and Daley’s support, and the $11,000 Bean took in from key JP Morgan executives in the space of ten days in late June.
In addition to support from Dimon and Daley, Bean took contributions from JP Morgan lobbyist Peter Scher, executive Blythe Masters (leading derivatives expert and chair emeritus of SIFMA), chief risk officer Barry Zubrow, chief investment officer Althea Duersten, and head of commercial banking Todd Maclin.
More recently, Obama bundler Bruce Heyman, a Chicago-based Goldman Sachs executive, maxed out to Bean in late September. He shows more liberal tendencies than some of his friends, and had never given to the New Democrat before. Heyman raised over $50,000 for Obama, and contributed over $20,000 to his campaign and "victory fund."
Other Obama-linked Chicago financial elites giving big to Bean this year include Penny Pritzker, Obama’s campaign finance chair; Obama bundlers Stephen Malkin and Michael Sacks, both of Grosvenor Capital Management; Obama bundler James Tyree of Mesirow Financial; and Debra Cafaro, CEO of real estate investment trust Ventas, who has given over $20,000 to Obama. Cafaro, Pritzker, and Tyree all joined JP Morgan executives in giving big to Bean in late June.
The list goes on and on; we’re only scratching the surface here.
Regardless of who Bean is taking her marching orders from, Obama’s inner circle retains significant leverage over the Representative from Illinois. To understand her as a rogue element within her party, doing Wall Street’s bidding and crossing senior leadership, is to completely disregard the roots of power in the White House and the Democrat-controlled Congress.
* Note: some totals displayed on LittleSis are inflated at the moment due to double-counting. We’re working to resolve the problem.