Nation's top banks spent big money on lobbying efforts during financial crisis

Eight of the nation's largest banks spent nearly $26 million lobbying federal lawmakers in 2009, during one of the most tumultuous periods in financial history.

The banks spent nearly 6 percent more on federal lobbying last year compared with 2008, according to a review of congressional lobbying records. The banks spent $25.8 million on lobbying in 2009 and $24.4 million in 2008, the two years at the heart of the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.

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The eight banks include: JPMorgan Chase & Co., Citigroup, Bank of America, Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, Wells Fargo, Bank of New York Mellon and State Street. Those eight banks were the first recipients of taxpayer bailouts at the end of 2008.

They have since repaid the aid and have seen their stock values increase. They are now preparing to pay out massive compensation packages. While the financial industry shows signs of improvement, the broader economy remains bleak with 10 percent unemployment.

The banks are locked in a tough lobbying battle over new financial regulations with other parts of the financial industry, consumer groups, labor unions, congressional Democrats and the White House.

President Barack Obama has recently struck a tougher tone on big banks and has criticized their lobbying efforts against the administration's regulatory plans. The House passed new regulations in December, but the Senate has yet to hold a vote or mark up legislation in the Senate Banking Committee.

Industry lobbyists expect the biggest banks to continue to be criticized heavily by the administration and by members of Congress. The administration last week proposed a new fee on roughly 50 large financial firms in an effort to raise $90 billion over 10 years to recoup the losses on the government's bailout efforts.

General Motors and Chrysler, as well as their finance arms, and American International Group (AIG) received billions of dollars in bailout money, much of which is not expected to be repaid anytime soon if ever. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the two housing giants, continue to operate under government conservatorship.

JPMorgan was the biggest spender on federal lobbying in 2009 at $6.17 million. That was roughly 14 percent more than the bank spent in 2008.

Citigroup was second at $5.5 million in 2009, a sum nearly unchanged from 2008.

Goldman Sachs and Bank of America both decreased their spending on lobbying by roughly 15 and 13 percent, respectively.