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Report: Bailed Out Firms Spending Millions on Lobbying « The Washington Independent

Not only are some bailed-out companies spending billions of dollars on bonuses even as taxpayers spend billions more to save them, but some firms are using portions of that cash to lobby Congress as well. From the Wall Street Journal:

Bank of America Corp., whose heavy losses prompted it to appeal to the government for a second bailout this month, spent $4.1 million on lobbying last year, nearly $1 million more than in 2007. The bank spent $820,000 on lobbying in the last quarter, about one-fifth less than in the third quarter. Bank of America is in line to receive a total of $45 billion from the government, including $20 billion committed by the Treasury this month.

Merrill Lynch & Co., which was acquired by Bank of America Jan. 1 at the government’s urging, spent $1.2 million on lobbying in each of the last two quarters, and $4.7 million for the year, $280,000 more than it spent in 2007. Merrill’s losses last year were another reason why Bank of America appealed for a second injection of taxpayer money.

The trend caught the attention of some Senate lawmakers, who introduced legislation * prohibiting bailed-out companies from lobbying or making political contributions. Sponsored by Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), the bill would penalize companies at least $100,000 for each violation.

It creates a test of the influence of K Street: Can lobbyists lobby away legislation banning their lobbying?

Should be fierce.

**Clarification: Feinstein’s office points out that the bill was first introduced in November, then reintroduced earlier this month — not today. *

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