Labor groups descend on K Street to protest Wall Street lobby

About 1,000 protesters
by labor groups blocked traffic and marched
Monday in the streets of Washington to demonstrate against Wall Street’s lobbyists.

A chief aim of the group was
to highlight the fact that Wall Street firms have spent more than $1.3
million a day to fight the legislation headed for a vote in the Senate
this week. More than 1,500 lobbyists have been hired to weaken the
provisions, according to labor groups.

Monday’s protest centered
on K Street, where several of the lobbying shops hired by the Wall
firms are located.

Lobbyists working for Bank
of America, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan Chase, Morgan Stanley
and Wells Fargo/Wachovia were the primary targets of the march led by
AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler.

Similar demonstrations took
place during the weekend as members of the Service Employees International

Union (SEIU) and the National People’s Action (NPA), which works with
labor groups, descended upon the homes of two bank lobbyists in Chevy
Chase, Md.

The targets over the weekend
were Peter Scher, a lobbyist for JP Morgan Chase, and Gregory Baer,
deputy counsel for Bank of America.

On Baer’s doorstep, protesters
armed with megaphones yelled, “Bank of America, bad for America,”
as one unnamed demonstrator recounted the effort she endured to save
her home from being foreclosed on by the bank.

“Let the big banks know that
it is not OK to spend millions of dollars for legislation that protects
the banks and forgets the people,” the demonstrator said in a video
of the event taped by SEIU and NPA.

Banks have lobbied heavily
on the legislation, a version of which was already approved in the
The emerging bill in the Senate, however, is even tougher on Wall Street

than the House-approved bill. 

It includes a new consumer
protection body to be housed in the Federal Reserve and might force
to be traded on electronic exchanges, something the industry is still
fighting fiercely. 

The demonstrations come on
the heels of a report by the Institute for America’s Future that found
that since the first major federal bailout of Bear Stearns in March
2008, the aforementioned banks and their trade associations have spent

on lobbying, trade association activity and political contributions.

The report states 243
lobbyists for the six big banks and their trade associations used to
work in the federal government, including 202 who worked for members
of Congress.

“That’s equivalent to 40
revolving-door lobbyists per bank,” the report states.

Of the 243
five worked with Senate Banking Committee Chairman
Chris Dodd (D-Conn.), according to
the report. That panel’s ranking member, Sen.
(R-Ala.), as well
as Sens.
Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Tim Johnson
each have four former staffers who now work as lobbyists for the banking


Dodd is the chief architect
of the Wall Street reform bill. The others are senior members on the
committee and enjoy having great influence on fellow members in the
upper chamber.

The Senate will continue to
vote on amendments to the reform bill this week, with a final vote
before Friday.

Tags Chuck Schumer Tim Johnson

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