Black People : Who wins out with congress, the Lobbyists, or us?

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  1. Ankhur

    Ankhur Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    Citigroup Taxpayer Ownership Doesn’t Prevent Lobbying (Update1)
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    By Jonathan D. Salant and Lizzie O’Leary

    Oct. 23 (Bloomberg) -- Citigroup Inc., which has yet to repay $45 billion in federal assistance, has more lobbyists than any other company who registered to try to shape legislation regulating the financial industry, U.S. Senate records show.

    The New York-based bank, 34 percent-owned by the U.S. government, is listed as a client by 46 of the 1,537 lobbyists who filed with Congress to work on President Barack Obama’s push for rules to limit financial risks and impose stricter consumer protections.

    They join 44 advocates for the American Bankers Association, 41 for Prudential Financial Inc., and 29 for Goldman Sachs Group Inc. Altogether, lobbyists for companies, business organizations and financial industry groups outnumber, by 25 to 1, the 58 who registered to represent consumer groups, unions and other proponents of tougher regulations.

    “We’re like Luke Skywalker and they’re like the empire,” said consumer lobbyist Ed Mierzwinski, referring to the “Star Wars” hero. Mierzwinski works for the Boston-based U.S. Public Interest Research Group.

    Some people at outside firms hired by Citigroup are working on issues other than the regulatory overhaul, according to the bank’s chief in-house lobbyist, Nicholas Calio, who sent a memo to the firms asking them to submit new disclosures clarifying each individual’s duties.

    Citigroup spokeswoman Molly Millerwise Meiners said the company had not hired 46 people to lobby on regulatory reform. “While Citi does retain a handful of consultants to work on a number of financial issues, lobbying disclosure reports are often subject to over-reporting and can be highly inaccurate,” she said in an e-mail. Meiners added that TARP capital is not used to support lobbying.

    Being Constructive

    Bob DeFillippo, spokesman for Newark, New Jersey-based Prudential, the second-largest U.S. life insurer, said the company’s lobbyists work on a variety of issues and don’t all meet with lawmakers on Capitol Hill.

    “We see our role as having the ability to be constructive, to provide information that helps draft the kind of regulatory reform that we agree is necessary,” DeFillippo said.

    Melissa Daly, a spokeswoman for New York-based Goldman Sachs, declined to comment.

    The lobbyist headcount includes advocates whose disclosure forms specify that they are working on financial regulation proposals in Congress. It doesn’t count advocates on other industry issues. Some lobbyists represent more than one client.

    Obama, 48, and White House aides have gone on an offensive during the past week, criticizing banks for fighting new regulations so soon after taxpayer bailouts helped them through an economic meltdown.

    White House Criticism

    “You would hope after American taxpayers stepped in to save these companies from a disaster of their own making they would be deploying their army of lobbyists to strengthen and not thwart financial reform,” senior Obama adviser David Axelrod said in an interview. At some point, Axelrod said, industry lobbying and campaign contributions may cause a “tremendous backlash” from the public.

    With Congress considering far-reaching regulatory changes, the industry’s lobbyists are contending with multiple proposals stemming from the market collapse, the credit crunch and the $700 billion U.S. aid package.

    The House Financial Services Committee yesterday voted, over industry and Republican opposition, to set up a Consumer Financial Protection Agency to prevent abuses in credit-card and mortgage lending. The financial services and agriculture committees have both approved legislation regulating over-the- counter derivatives.

    Former Bush Aide

    Citigroup’s lobbyists include Calio, who was President George W. Bush’s congressional liaison; Alexander Sternhell, former Senate Banking Committee deputy staff director; and Brant Imperatore, former counsel for the House financial services panel.

    The Washington-based U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the biggest business lobby, has 46 people who registered to work on the financial regulation debate. The New York-based Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association has 37.

    Prudential’s lobbyists include veteran Democratic fundraiser Heather Podesta. Daniel Meyer, who was chief of staff to former-House Speaker Newt Gingrich, is among representatives for Goldman Sachs, which set aside $16.7 billion for compensation and benefits in the first nine months of 2009.

    Goldman Sachs in June repaid $10 billion it had received from the government’s Troubled Asset Relief Program. Prudential didn’t get any TARP money.

    Strength in Numbers

    Superior numbers can make a difference in legislative battles, said Clyde Wilcox, a government professor at Georgetown University in Washington.

    “If most of the information and pressure comes from one side, Congress usually chooses that side,” Wilcox said.

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