Financial Reform Vote-Buying, Chapter 1

Just a quick note on the passage of the financial reform bill, about which I have a piece coming out in the print version of Rolling Stone soon.

An analysis by a group called Maplight.org uncovered an interesting fact about the vote. The 38 Senators who opposed the bill in the cloture vote this afternoon received an average of $103,266 in campaign contributions from commercial banks. The 60 Senators who were yea votes took an average of $76,759.

Obviously this is just part of the puzzle, but it's worth noting. The pull Wall Street exerts on a bill like this comes via several different avenues -- campaign contributions are one, the potential for future employment (a big factor for staffers, and for retiring members like certain Democratic Party committee chairs) is another, the proximity of the lobbyist community (one staffer I know grumbled about the "literal intermarriage" factor, i.e. members married to lobbyists) is another. These cash-rich industries just keep hurling money and personnel at the Hill and even when they lose, like today, they do okay -- the final product is much weaker than it would have been without all the lobbying and the cash.

Anyway, more on that later on, but the study is worth checking out. The really interesting thing, of course, will be to watch and see where all of the key players end up once the dust settles. Anyone want to take bets on how many Banking Committee members/staffers will be on the boards of major banks within the next five years?

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