The financial sector has paid a total of $251 million since January to lobby Congress, the White House, and the Treasury Department, making it the leading spender of any industry in the second quarter. 

Healthcare firms lead overall, with a total of $267 million spent on lobbying.

According to the Center for Responsive Politics, the financial sector total represents a 12-percent increase in its spending since 2009. 

Observers note that the marked increase occurred in the quarter preceding the passage of Wall Street reform, which was signed by President Obama on July 21.

"Financial reform certainly drove Wall Street lobbying efforts," said Dave Levinthal with the Center for Responsive Politics. "Even as the economy remains beaten and bruised, with some financial institutions continuing to struggle, most banks and securities houses found it in their budgets to hire lobbyists."

Reports filed by banks show that Citigroup spent $2.78 million, Goldman Sachs spent $2.7 million and Bank of America spent $2.1 million in the first and second quarters.

Financial lobbying firms like the American Bankers Association, the sector's largest trade association, and the Financial Services Roundtable outdid the individual banks. The two spent $4.5 million and $4.2 million, respectively. 

ABA President Ed Yingling explained their objectives in July.

"They want more flexibility [in the legislation]. They don't want hard and fast rules," he told "The most important is the recommendation that this has to be coordinated internationally. They don't want to lock the US banks into a system that could put them at a competitive disadvantage."