News Release

Wall St. Pumped Record $2.9 Billion to Washington Politicians, At Least

LISA DONNER, Carter Dougherty, carter@ourfinancialsecurity.org
Donner is executive director of Americans for Financial Reform, which just released the report “Wall Street Money in Washington.” She said today: “The enormous sums that Wall Street has at its disposal, combined with a broken campaign finance system, means there is little practical limit to the amount of money the financial services industry can inject into American debate on politics and policy. Year in and year out, this torrent of money gives Wall Street an outsized role in how we are governed, while driving and protecting policies that help this industry’s super wealthy amass even greater fortunes at the expense of the rest of us.”

The group found: “During the 2019-20 election cycle, Wall Street spent at least $2.9 billion on campaign contributions and lobbying to influence policy in Washington. … That total, which amounts to $4 million a day, shatters the previous record of $2 billion set in the 2015-16 presidential cycle.

“The highest-ever level of spending by Wall Street banks and financial services reflects the industry’s relentless push to influence decision-making, regardless of the party that controls Congress or the executive branch.”

The group states that “the financial sector spent an extraordinary amount of money in an ultimately unsuccessful effort to preserve Republican control of the Senate and maintain a divided government that would lock in deregulation and tax cuts enacted under President Trump and prevent financial reform legislation. …

“In this election cycle, individuals and entities associated with the financial sector reported making $4,971,464 in contributions to the eight Republican Senators and $38,512,126 to the 139 House members who voted to overturn the election (as reported by February 17, 2021), for a total of $43,483,590.” But the group also notes that “of the $982,775,706 in party-coded contributions by individuals and PACs associated with finance, 47 percent went to Republicans and 53 percent went to Democrats.” The group also stresses that because of dark money, these numbers are a bare minimum — they are simply unable to track all the cash involved.

Among the biggest spenders were: Bloomberg LP, National Association of Realtors, Blackstone Group, Charles Schwab & Co., American Bankers Association, Paloma Partners, Bain Capital, Renaissance Technologies and Wells Fargo.

Among the largest recipients: Senate Leadership Fund, Senate Majority, Independence USA PAC, House Majority PAC, Congressional Leadership Fund and America First Action, NextGen Climate Action and American Bridge 21st Century.