RIMANEWS - The money banks spend on lobbying is on pace to reach a record high again this year as the industry battles to weaken or repeal hundreds of rules being crafted by federal regulators.
Lobbying outlays by the five biggest spenders in the commercial banking sector increased 12 percent in the first three quarters of 2011 over the same period last year, an Observer analysis of federal lobbying disclosure records shows.
Wells Fargo in particular is turning into a major player in Washington. The San Francisco-based bank's spending on lobbying is up 80 percent in the first three quarters of the year, compared with the same period in 2010.
"If these firms and these organizations keep spending money at the rate they've been spending it, they will shoot through the ceiling again this year," said Michael Beckel, spokesman for the research group Center for Responsive Politics, which tracks federal lobbying.
At this time last year, the commercial banking industry had spent about $42 million on lobbying, the center's data show. So far this year, the figure stands at nearly $47 million.
Should this year's pace continue, 2011 will be the sixth straight year that commercial bank lobbying has set a record, according to the center. charlotteobserver.com
FACTS & FIGURES
In its entirety, Wall Street firms have already spent more than $100 million in total this year on lobbying related to Dodd-Frank financial reform law, according to The New York Times.
Big banks are among the most prolific spenders. JPMorgan Chase's team of in-house lobbyists spent $3.3 million, a slight uptick over last year. NY Times
What's driving banks' increased spending is a growing array of new federal regulations, mostly stemming from the Dodd-Frank financial reform law. Since it passed last year, federal agencies have been scrambling to write more than 300 new rules, from the cap on swipe fees merchants pay on debit transactions to the terms of a ban on proprietary trading known as the Volcker Rule. charlotteobserver.com
The biggest war chest among organizations focused primarily on Dodd-Frank belongs to the American Bankers Association, which so far spent $4.6 million on lobbying. The organization wrestled the top spending spot from the Financial Services Roundtable, a fellow trade group that represents 100 of the nation's largest financial firms. NY Times
A handful of Occupy Wall Street protesters recently launched "Occupy the SEC" in direct response to what they perceive as the weakening of the Volcker rule. [SEC is the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission] Huffington Post