When the “fail whale” breached at JPMorgan earlier this year, creating billions in embarrassing losses as a result of risky trading, the bank immediately ceased its political giving. Not that the bank didn’t need help from Congress—it certainly did, but a long history of donations to key committees bought CEO Jamie Dimon friendly audiences during hearings exploring the losses. Rather, the bank realized that while on the hot seat, the donations were tainted and likely unwelcome in Congress.
But in a clear indication that JPMorgan’s seat has already cooled considerably, the bank is once again doling out the cash. On July 31, JPMorgan PAC wrote ten checks to the PACs of ten members of Congress, many of them key members of committees with the power to stop the risky trading that created the multibillion-dollar losses at the federally insured bank this year.
Nine Republicans and one Democrat split $36,000 from JPMorgan Chase & Co. PAC in roughly equal amounts. They were:
Senator Mike Crapo (R-ID)
Senator Bob Corker (R-TN)
Senator Pat Roberts (R-KS)
Representative John Carney (D-DE)
Representative Lynn Westmoreland (R-GA)
Representative Ron Kind (R-WI)
Representative Patrick McHenry (R-NC)
Representative Steve Stivers (R-OH)
Representative Scott Garrett (R-NJ)
Representative Pat Tiberi (R-OH)
Virtually none of these members are facing competitive races this fall. (Though their leadership PAC can distribute the money to colleagues who are). However, each of the Representatives sits on the House Financial Services Committee, except Tiberi, who is on House Ways and Means. Each senator is on the Senate Banking Committee, except Roberts, who sits on the Senate Finance Committee. These committees exercise oversight over financial reform implementation and the financial services industry needs them on it’s side.
It is crucial to watch the bank’s lobbying and influence efforts going forward—this certainly won’t be the last of them—and more importantly, what it buys the industry. Before the fail-whale catastrophe this year, several bills that would gut derivative reform were ready to move in the House, but were frozen by the scandal.
Lisa Gilbert, acting director of Congress Watch at Public Citizen, said that “Financial reform advocates will be watching to see whether supporters of these efforts think it’s now ‘safe,’ not only to take JPMorgan’s money but to go back to deregulating the derivatives markets.”