Since July, financial regulators have had more than 500 meetings with lobbyists from hundreds of companies seeking to shape the interpretation and enforcement of new financial reform law, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Most groups in these meetings—more than 90 percent, according to the Times—are banks, hedge funds, and other big companies that rely on the financial industry. Many seek exemptions to the law's specific provisions that limit risky trading or increase consumer protection against bank fees, according to the Times’ examination of public disclosures from the Federal Reserve, Securities and Exchange Commission, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and Commodities Futures Trading Commission.
Normally these meetings would be secret, but the agencies—which are responsible for crafting the specifics of hundreds of rules as part of the overhaul—announced in August that they would report meetings with the private sector in order to bring transparency to the process. From the Times:
The names listed most frequently in the logs are Goldman Sachs, with 21 meetings with regulators, and JPMorgan Chase, with 23. Jamie Dimon, chairman and chief executive of JPMorgan, was among those in attendance when a bank contingent met Oct. 8 with Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Chairwoman Sheila Bair, records show.
Financial executives told the Times that they are trying to educate regulators about the effects that the rules will have on their sector, and that several of the meetings were convened at the agencies’ request.
Some regulators, however, have expressed frustration with companies’ aims to water down the rules. One member of the CFTC told the Times, “I don’t think it’s a very valuable use of their time or mine, because that is not the direction we were instructed to go by Congress.”
Interested parties aren’t just limited to the financial sector. As we’ve noted, oil companies have criticized a transparency measure in the reform bill meant to crack down on bribery by requiring oil, gas and mineral companies to disclose payments to foreign governments. An oil industry trade group sat down with the SEC in September to argue that the rule “raises significant practicality and cost-benefit concerns.”
The Center for Public Integrity earlier reported a dramatic rise in the number of companies that registered lobbyists seeking to influence these specific regulatory bodies. Of the companies that lobbied over the financial reform bill from January to September this year, 138 targeted the SEC, 110 targeted the CFTC, 82 targeted the Fed, and 56 targeted the FDIC. That’s up from—respectively—37, 11, 29, and 11 over the same time period the year before.
The meeting disclosures aren’t posted in an easily searchable format, but they’re all available online at the Fed, SEC,FDIC and CFTC websites and are worth checking out. Let us know if anything catches your eye.
Inform our investigations: Do you have information or expertise relevant to this story? Help us and journalists around the country by sharing your stories and experiences.