WASHINGTON - Tea Party movement favorites such as Stephen Fincher of Tennessee were swept into Congress on a wave of anger over government-funded bailouts of banks.
Now those incumbents are collecting thousands of dollars for reelection campaigns from the same Wall Street firms whose excesses they criticized. They have taken no significant steps to curb them or prevent future taxpayer-financed rescues.
Republican freshmen ranks include 10 Tea Party-backed members on the House Financial Services Committee, part of a force that won election in a populist backlash to government spending that included emergency lending to major banks and bailout of firms including US automakers.
Still, the lawmakers have not passed, considered, or even introduced legislation to address concerns about “too-big-to-fail’’ banks voiced by members of both parties and such Federal Reserve bank presidents as Richard Fisher of Dallas and Jeffrey Lacker of Richmond.
The antibailout fervor that drove the messages of Republican candidates during the campaign cycle of 2009 and 2010 has dissipated, and those same lawmakers are collecting money from the firms bailed out by President George W. Bush’s $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program bailout program.
Five banks - JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Citigroup, Wells Fargo, and Goldman Sachs - held $8.5 trillion in assets at the end of 2011, equal to 56 percent of the US economy, according to central bankers at the Federal Reserve. Combined, those institutions took $150 billion in bailout money in 2008 and repaid it by the end of the next year.
The political action committees of those institutions have distributed $169,499 through March 31 to the campaign coffers of the 10 Tea Party-backed lawmakers on the House Financial Services Committee, according to an analysis of campaign finance disclosure records.
Fincher, a gospel musician from Frog Jump, Tenn., has received $11,500 from the political action committees run by Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, and Wells Fargo. Citigroup’s political action committee had not contributed to the lawmaker through the end of March.
Fincher promised as a candidate to “Help Main Street’’ and ensure there would be “no more Wall Street bailouts’’ in an advertisement that ran 98 times in the Nashville market in the run-up to his victory in a district previously held by a Democrat since 1988, according to New York-based Kantar Media’s CMAG, which tracks advertising.
Fincher, through his spokeswoman Jennifer Cook, declined an interview request. Several others receiving donations from the banking firms also have declined to comment.
Lawmakers collecting contributions from industries they oversee is a common practice in Congress, and both parties take advantage of it, according to Anthony Corrado, a political scientist at Colby College in Waterville, Maine.
“One of the reasons why financial services has become a particularly important committee in recent Congresses is that the parties know they can put individuals on that committee and they will be successful raising money,’’ Corrado said. “It shows how the money culture on Capitol Hill can affect even those who come to Washington hoping to fight against it.’’ — BLOOMBERG NEWS
Park alliance raising funds for Flight 93 memorial
PITTSBURGH - The National Park Foundation says two former presidents and the speaker of the House will host a fund-raiser in Washington for the Flight 93 National Memorial.
The foundation said Monday that Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and House Speaker John Boehner will host the benefit on May 15. The bipartisan event aims to secure funding for the memorial, including a learning center and a Tower of Voices containing 40 large wind chimes.
The first phase of the memorial was dedicated in September.
The site honors the 40 passengers and crew members who died when the airliner crashed in a field about 75 miles southeast of Pittsburgh on Sept. 11, 2001. Passengers fought terrorists for control of the hijacked plane that was targeting Washington. — ASSOCIATED PRESS
Activist says Romney can’t be trusted on pay equity
HANOVER, N.H. - Campaigning for President Obama in New Hampshire, the Alabama woman whose lawsuit led to the federal pay equity law that bears her name said Monday that voters should not trust statements by Republican Mitt Romney’s campaign that he won’t touch the law.
Romney has said he has no intention of altering the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which makes it easier for workers to sue for pay discrimination, but he has declined to say whether he would have signed the bill had he been president. It was the first bill Obama signed into law, and as he seeks to widen his advantage over Romney with female voters, he has been promoting it as proof of his commitment to women’s rights.
Ledbetter, who sued Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. after learning near the end of her 19-year career that she was being paid less than her male colleagues, said she doesn’t believe that Romney will leave the law alone.
Just because his campaign says he has no interest in changing it, “that doesn’t mean he won’t, because he has been known to flip-flop quite a bit,’’ she said in Hanover. — ASSOCIATED PRESS