How Much Money Does Wall Street Spend on Lobbying and Campaign Contributions?

occupy-wall-street-political-cartoon-lobbyists

Political cartoon by Mike Luckovich, Atlanta Journal Constitution

A new report from Americans for Financial Reform provides a troubling window into the amount of cash pouring into Congress from Wall Street since the 2008 crisis -it’s over $2.7 million a day, and more than $3.7 million per member of Congress!

Wall Street Money in Washington,” is a 62-page examination of political spending, draws on a special data set compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics for AFR in order to provide a more precise look at financial industry spending than is otherwise possible.

Campaign Contributions: $1.2 billion. Individuals and entities associated with financial reported making $1,201,417,199 in contributions to federal candidates for office during this election cycle. The financial sector’s contributions were almost twice that of any other specific business sector identified in the data. Of the $688,150,613 in party-coded contributions by PACs and individuals associated with finance, 55% went to Republicans and 45% went to Democrats.

Five U.S. Senators and two House members were among the biggest Congressional recipients of financial sector contributions. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) topped this list with $8,687,969. The other senators were Ted Cruz (R-TX), with $5,482,011; Charles Schumer (D-NY), with $5,345,563; Rob Portman (R-OH), with $4,158,259; Pat Toomey (R-PA). Members of the House of Representatives were led by House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), with $5,727,069; and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), with $3,397,980.

Lobbying: $898 million. The financial industry reported spending a total of $897,949,264 on lobbying in 2015 and 2016. This puts the sector in – close – third place, behind the Health sector, which spent $1,022,907,176, and a category of “Miscellaneous Business,” a sector that that itself probably includes some Wall Street lobbying by business groups with a broader focus than only finance.

Since 2008, the financial services industry has spent more money on contributions and lobbying than it did before the crisis, and the total in this cycle is the highest yet. 

“The entire apparatus of government operates in an environment flooded with millions of dollars in Wall Street cash on a daily basis,” said Lisa Donner, executive director of Americans for Financial Reform. “If you want to understand why finance too often hurts consumers, investors and businesses far from Wall Street, take a look at these numbers.”

You can read the whole report on the Americans for Financial Reform website. 

 

Sacramento Bee Weighs in on California’s Secure Choice Retirement Program Being Attacked

Last week, HJ Res. 66 moved forward, and several California representatives voted for it, including Rep. Kevin McCarthy, Rep. Devin Nunes and Rep. Ed Royce.

CRC is deeply disappointed to see this well-thought out program come under attack and will oppose any efforts to dismantle a program that helps people to save money for retirement.

ThrowBack Thursday: The Roots of the Mortgage Crisis

CRC recently stumbled across a copy of a 2007 report entitled “Sustainability, not attainability: An Examination of Nontraditional Residential Mortgage Lending Products and Practices.” The report included testimony from some companies like New Century Mortgage, who caused billions of dollars in damage to the economy, to say nothing of the individual impact on families who lost their homes. You can order a copy of the report from the CA Senate for $11.75.

Below, we include some choice quotes about the valuable services that companies like New Century Mortgage were providing, or that community advocates didn’t know what they were talking about when they asked for stronger consumer protections. Of course, it turned out the advocates were right, these mortgage would go bad, and our economy would implode as a result. Perhaps smart regulation isn’t so bad after all?  Especially when it comes to the largest asset that many American families will ever own?

Want to learn more about the cost of this crisis?  Check out some other CRC posts below:

NEW CFPB MORTGAGE RULES: WHY DO WE NEED THEM? PART 1

CITY OF LOS ANGELES LAWSUIT AGAINST CHASE, WELLS FARGO, CITIGROUP, AND BANK OF AMERICA

ONEWEST BANK FORECLOSURE TRACKER: HOW MANY FAMILIES ARE LOSING THEIR HOMES?

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

Do You Have an IndyMac or OneWest Mortgage, or Financial Freedom Reverse Mortgage? Weigh in on this merger please!

OneWest Protest Picture (3)

Did you hear the news?  After months of opposition to the proposed merger of CIT Group and OneWest Bank, the Federal Reserve and Office of the Comptroller of the Currency announced late last Friday that the regulators will host a public hearing on the merger in Los Angeles on February 26th.

If you are a homeowner whose mortgage was or is serviced by OneWest Bank, or a reverse mortgage serviced by Financial Freedom, you should STRONGLY consider sharing your experience with the Federal Reserve and OCC.  The deadline to provide comments was extended until February 26th, and it’s important regulators hear from Main Street as they make their decisions.

Housing counselors rated OneWest Bank as one of the most difficult mortgage servicers to work with in helping homeowners to avoid foreclosure, and if this was your experience, the Federal Reserve and OCC should know about it.

In addition, you may have heard about the controversial “shared loss” agreement the FDIC extended to the billionaire owners of OneWest bank.  Under this agreement, the FDIC is reimbursing OneWest for costs related to foreclosing on IndyMac mortgages.  You can read more about the $1 billion that’s already been paid out, as well as the expected $1.4 billion expected to be paid out before 2019 by reading CRC’s Fact Sheet on this topic.

Did we mention that we had to submit a FOIA request to find out how much the FDIC had paid out?

Financial Freedom, a subsidiary of OneWest who services mortgages, has also been in the news a lot recently for its foreclosure practices, especially as they relate to surviving spouses of deceased reverse mortgage borrowers.  If you have encountered problems in trying to work with Financial Freedom/OneWest after the death of a loved one, CRC would like to hear from you.  Please email: scoffey AT calreinvest.org

It is VITAL that regulators hear from Main Street about this merger.  If you need help submitting comments, please let us know.

You can send an email to these two addresses, and let them know you’re writing about the CIT Group merger with OneWest Bank.  The deadline is February 26, so get those comments in soon!

comments.applications@ny.frb.org and WE.Licensing@occ.treas.gov.

 

PS: If you’d like to learn more about this merger, we are including a few resources below:

Prezi Presentation: The Too Big To Fail Merger of CIT Group and OneWest Bank: What you need to know

The CIT Group/OneWest Bank Merger Resource Center

15,000 Americans Tell Federal Reserve “No Thanks” to CIT Group and OneWest proposed merger

 

The 10 Most Popular Stories in Consumer Finance in 2014 on CRC’s blog

What were the most popular posts on the CRC blog in 2014?

1) Most popular: City of Los Angeles Lawsuit Against Chase, Wells Fargo, Citigroup, and Bank of America

The City of Los Angeles filed a lawsuit against JPMorgan Chase for targeting minorities for predatory mortgages and the subsequent economic damage when these loans went into default.  The City Attorney, Mike Feuer, has already sued Wells Fargo, Citigroup Inc, and Bank of America for the same issues.  See this Law 360 article on a new lawsuit filed in December 2014:  LA Sues JPMorgan, BofA, Citi Over Discriminatory Lending

2. New Resource for Widowed Homeowners Facing Foreclosure

The “widows and orphans” problem refers to the fact that many widows, orphans, and others who inherit or have an ownership interest in property have faced foreclosure upon the death of a loved one because they were not listed on the loan, and the servicer would not work with them so that they could keep the family home.  See the recent announcement from the CFPB that they will providing additional updates to these rules here: CFPB Proposes Expanded Foreclosure Protections

3. Editorials Against Payday Lenders

How do over 50 newspapers feel about the payday lending industry?  Take a look and learn why advocates are excited about the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s upcoming rule-making for an industry who had a number of scandals in 2014.

4. The Payday Lender Hall of Shame

This is the worst of the worst when it comes to payday loan stories- here’s just a small sample, be sure to read the full post, and while you’re at it, sign our petition to CFPB Director Richard Cordray.

  • 1,000 text messages sent to a man after his suicide from debt collectors?
  • $83 million in campaign contributions made by the payday loan industry to prevent strong consumer protections from being enacted into laws
  • Training manuals that tell payday loan staff how to keep customers caught in the debt cycle

5. Banc of California Acquisition of 20 Banco Popular Branches Opposed 

After CRC members and allies opposed this acquisition, Banc of California agreed to create a public, 5 year community benefit and reinvestment plan.

6. Community members gather in Oakland to Celebrate California Reinvestment!

While CRC members and allies are serious about economic justice, they also know how to have fun.

7. Community leaders protest sale of 20 local Banco Popular Branches in Los Angeles

CRC members and allies held a press conference in front of a Banco Popular branch in LA as part of our initial opposition to Banc of California purchasing 20 Banco Popular branches.

8. John Oliver and Sarah Silverman on Payday Loans  

This post is self-explanatory, but if you watch the video, know that this industry is so bad there’s some adult language used by Mr. Oliver and Ms. Silverman.

Our favorite line? 

After a payday lender says “If you can’t pay the loan, don’t worry, we’ll be there to work with you.”

Oliver responds “No S*** you’ll be there, your business model depends on it!

(He’s referring of course to the debt trap that is sprung for the majority of people who take out a payday loan and find themselves unable to repay it two weeks later).

9. Bank Payday Loans No Longer Offered By Wells Fargo or US Bank

CRC was particularly happy to see this announcement after our opposition to banks providing these “direct deposit advance” loans that were very similar to payday loans.  Of course, we’d still like to see the banks get completely out of the business of payday lending, and stop providing financing to these modern day loan sharks.  For more on the financing that main street banks provide to payday lenders, see the report “Connecting the Dots” from our ally, Reinvestment Partners, based in North Carolina.

10. 80 Organizations Call on Federal Government to Address Private Equity and Investor Landlords

Have you heard about Wall Street’s latest profit scheme?  After millions of homeowners lost their homes to foreclosure, private equity is now moving into the housing market, buying roughly $200 billion worth of single-family homes, with the intent of securitizing the rental income…sounds familiar, doesn’t it?  Just look out if you’re a first-time homebuyer (hard to compete with all cash offers), a tenant (you might get booted to make way for higher paying renters), or a community, whose makeup could be changed thanks to the new landlords.

And, our three honorable mentions (we should point out that the OneWest post is only a few weeks old, so it was at a distinct disadvantage!)

A.  Community Leaders Hold Press Conference at OneWest Bank Headquarters 

In December, CRC received a response to our FOIA request to the FDIC, asking how much money the FDIC has paid out and expects to pay out in the future, under controversial shared loss agreements with the bank.  We released the figures (OneWest is on track to receive a whopping $2.4 billion by 2019!) at a press conference with our members and allies in front of the bank’s headquarters, where we called on the Federal Reserve to hold public hearings about this proposed, Too Big To Fail bank merger.  CRC also called on the bank to implement a foreclosure moratorium for surviving spouses whose mortgage is serviced by a OneWest subsidiary, Freedom Financial.  Read Kevin Stein’s HousingWire post to learn about three elderly homeowners who were facing foreclosure by OneWest Bank, and why we’re urging the bank to implement a moratorium until HUD develops rules to address situations where surviving family members are facing foreclosure due to a reverse mortgage.

B. Why we need Operation Choke Point to stop Illegal Online Payday Lenders

Payday lenders need access to your checking account in order to process the loans.  Learn more about Four Oaks Bank, and how 14 consumers were harmed by the bank playing an enabling role in processing illegal predatory loans.

C. Tenants Rights After a Foreclosure Upheld by California Court of Appeal

The story of a bank becoming the owner of a home after a foreclosure trustee sale is common in California.  Unfortunately, so is the experience of these two tenants who had continued paying their rent and should not have been evicted.  After a trustee sale, some real estate agents will try and get the current tenants out of the property as quickly as possible, offering cash for keys, making illegal threats, or even calling the police.  Tenants may or may not know their rights, and the real estate agents may take advantage of this and try and force them out quickly.

Is Congress Really Set to Pass Legislation Written By A Citigroup Lobbyist?

Citibank Legislation

Does Wall Street have no shame?

Americans for Financial Reform, the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, The Other 98%, and other bank watchdogs are blasting Congress for potentially destroying a key protection that was included in the Dodd-Frank financial reform legislation.  Dodd Frank financial reform was passed in response to the Wall-Street induced financial meltdown, and aimed to curb the riskiest behavior that ultimately resulted in hundreds of thousands of jobs lost, retirement savings lost, and millions of people losing their homes to foreclosure.

If this “gift” is allowed to go through, banks will be allowed to use insured deposits and other taxpayer subsidies and guarantees to gamble in the derivatives market.  This practice helped create the 2008 financial crisis.

Under Dodd-Frank, bank holding companies are required to segregate, and independently fund their riskiest and most exotic derivatives trading.  This requirement means taxpayers won’t be on the hook if the banks engage in risky behavior again.

Until now.

Apparently a measure, written by Citigroup lobbyists, has worked its way into the stop-gap government funding measure.

What can you do about it?

Call your senators and let them know.  We don’t want the banks to be allowed to gamble with American citizens picking up the tab at the end.  The “Citigroup measure” included in the omnibus spending bill must be removed!

PS: As a reminder, Wall Street is counting on you to have a short memory.  Consider CIT Group, which received $2.3 billion under the TARP program.  At the time, taxpayers were told this “investment” was important because of CIT’s role as a small business lender.  A year later, CIT had made only 142 small business loans (that’s 1,053 fewer than the year before), and CIT also declared bankruptcy, wiping out its obligation to repay taxpayers.  Fast forward to 2014, and CIT Group is now trying to buy OneWest bank and create another Too Big To Fail Bank.  In addition to the $2.3 billion “gift” to CIT Group, there’s ongoing corporate subsidy tucked into this deal as well- take a look at the lucrative shared-loss deal that OneWest’s billionaire owners were able to secure from the FDIC: Is the FDIC Subsidizing a ‘Too Big to Fail’ Merger?

New Study Finds Banks Maintain Foreclosed Homes Worse in Communities of Color

Oakland Picture

A bank-owned home in Oakland that was photographed as part of new study.

Fair Housing of Marin (FHOM), the National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA), and 16 fair housing centers released a report earlier this week detailing racial disparities in maintenance of bank-owned and Fannie Mae-owned foreclosures in 30 metro areas nationwide. FHOM investigated the Vallejo area and FHOM and NFHA investigated the Richmond and Oakland areas.

The investigations took into account over 30 different aspects of the maintenance and marketing of each property. REOs in communities of color were 2.6 times more likely to have 10 or more deficiencies than REOs in White neighborhoods (32.0% vs. 12.4%).

In the areas that FHOM investigated, REOs in communities of color were

  • 2 to 3 times more likely to have trash accumulated on the premises than REOs in White neighborhoods;
  • about 2.5 times more likely to have unsecured, broken, or boarded windows or have a trespassing or warning sign than REOs in White neighborhoods;
  • about 2.5 times more likely to have a trespassing or warning sign versus REOs in White communities.

To read the full press release about the report and its troubling findings, visit the Fair Housing of Marin website: Investigations of Bank-Owned Properties Uncovers Discrimination

To read the full report, visit this link: http://bit.ly/reo2014