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On FinReg, Five Lobbyists for Every Legislator

Today, the Center for Public Integrity has a good survey of how the financial regulatory reform bill got lobbied. More than 850 banks, financial firms, hedge funds and others deployed more than 3,000 lobbyists to the Hill to argue against strong consumer financial protections and other provisions blunting risk-taking and profit-making at financial firms. The total amount spent on lobbying against Sen. Chris Dodd’s (D-Conn.) bill is not clear, but it might reach into the hundreds of millions, the Center said.

In the financial services industry, some 175 companies and groups — ranging from Goldman Sachs Group Inc. to CME Group Inc. to the Private Equity Council — hired lobbyists to try to weaken or eliminate reform proposals aimed at banks and the capital markets. A distant second was the energy and utilities sector, with 91 companies and organizations, followed by manufacturing with 66 firms.

The companies and groups that lobbied on financial reform spent a total of $1.3 billion in 2009 and the first quarter of 2010 on their overall lobbying efforts, the data showed. The exact dollar amount they devoted to financial regulation reform remains unclear because lobbyists are not required to itemize how much money in a given contract is spent on a specific issue. But if only 10 percent of that spending was targeted at financial regulation bills, lobbyists would have received $133 million.

The American Bankers Association lobbyist quoted in the story notes that banks succeeded in influencing a few provisions — keeping the Federal Reserve as the regulator of state banks and killing a $50 billion resolution authority fund in the Senate bill, for instance. But those are relatively minor measures, underscoring just how strong the bill could be.

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