Why Obama Needs To Name Names

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.


After President Barack Obama on Thursday delivered a speech on Wall Street reform in which he decried the “battalions of financial industry lobbyists descending on Capitol Hill, as firms spend millions to influence the outcome of this debate,” I noted that the president had done “what too many politicians often do when they describe how special interests game Washington; he stayed vague.” That is, he named no names. He didn’t call out the specific firms, CEOS, or lobbyists trying to thwart the financial regulation reform legislation he’s pushing. Today, ThinkProgress shows why it would be important if Obama did that: because, naturally, the lobbyists themselves refuse to out themselves.

As Obama was delivering that speech in New York City, financial lobbyists were holding a fundraiser in Washington for Senate Republicans. The obvious goal: help those who have been helping Big Finance block Wall Street reform. ThinkProgress reports:

The invitation to the fundraiser, obtained by the Party Time blog of the Sunlight Foundation, shows that the it was hosted by lobbyists Wendy Grubb, Kirsten Chadwick, Scott Reed, and a variety of corporate PACs. Grubb is a top lobbyist for Citigroup, a bank that took taxpayer TARP funds and has yet to repay them. Chadwick, a former staffer to Rep. Roy Blunt (R-MO), is a lobbyist for Zurich Financial Group, a financial services conglomerate.

ThinkProgress, along with several other journalists, waited outside of the fundraiser at the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) building. Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) walked quickly past reporters into his car, refusing to take questions. Both Sens. Cornyn and George Lemieux (R-FL) dodged reporters by driving into the NRSC’s underground lot. Although ThinkProgress tried to ask both GOP lawmakers and the other attendees of the fundraiser about regulation reform legislation, only Charlie Black spoke to us. Black is a longtime corporate lobbyist who now represents a variety of investment banks, including Goldman Sachs, within a trade group called the “Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association.”

ThinkProgress attempted to talk to the attendees of the event, but everyone other than Black refused to even provide their names.

And that’s on this delicious video:

 

According to Obama, these guys are attempting to thwart legislation that is essential for the security of the US economy. The public ought to know who they are.

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

We Recommend

Latest