Conservatives rightly have excoriated phony RINOs (Republicans In Name Only) within the GOP. Liberals should begin to do likewise with DINOs, the hypocrites and sellouts within the Democratic Party.
They can begin with Barney Frank (D-Mass), who is a fat cat in more ways than his body mass index.
Here are excerpts from an eye-opening article on fat Barney’s Wall Street connections, “How Wall Street Bought Barney Frank,” by a lefty named Kevin Connor. He’s the co-director of the Public Accountability Initiative. Send the link of this blog <http://fellowshipofminds.wordpress.com/2009/12/30/barney-the-hypocrite/> to all your liberal friends! LOL
Barney Frank takes pride in being the Left’s darling, but he’s almost entirely funded by Wall Street and his votes show it.
Since becoming the ranking Democrat on the House Financial Services Committee seven years ago, he has built a formidable Wall Street donor base, even by Washington’s standards; as the housing bubble grew, so too did his fundraising purse and his stature, in Congress and beyond.
In the course of this Wall Street-fueled fundraising blitz, Frank developed a web of relationships, alliances, and attachments to financial elites that have repeatedly undermined his independence on everything from bailout negotiations to the financial reform legislation that he recently shepherded through the House. And his friends in finance continue to extend — and collect on — their investment.
On one day in late July of this year, the Weiss family of Brookline, Mass. gave a whopping $24,000 to Barney Frank. He received maximum contributions of $4,800 each from Kara, an MFA student in Seattle; Judith, an undergraduate at UC Davis; Danielle, a psychology PhD at Tulane; and their parents, Bonnie and Andrew. (All campaign finance data is drawn from OpenSecrets.org and LittleSis.org.)
The Weiss daughters, who had previously given a grand total of two $250 contributions, would seem to be unlikely top contributors to Frank. But their father Andrew is a hedge fund manager, and therefore a key constituent of the powerful chairman of the House Financial Services committee.
Joining the Weiss family in funneling Wall Street dollars to Frank that day were two other hedge fund managers, Eric Vincent and Michael Inserra, and former Republican Congressman Richard Baker. Baker is president of the Managed Funds Association (MFA) — the hedge fund industry’s main lobby — and Inserra and Vincent are both board members.
Baker had testified before Frank’s committee just ten days earlier on the financial reform package snaking its way through the House. The MFA PAC cut Frank a $10,000 check a few days after the testimony.
By the time the House of Representatives passed financial reform legislation on Dec. 10, the bill reflected one of the hedge fund industry’s main asks — lax oversight of the financial instruments known as over-the-counter (OTC) derivatives. After the bill passed, financial analyst Chris Whalen told Bloomberg News that “the OTC reform has gotten to be basically irrelevant as far as change… compared with what we thought we were going to get over the summer, it’s night and day.”
Meanwhile, Frank supported Wall Street and the hedge funds on at least two points where they lost out. He opposed an amendment offered by Brad Sherman that forces hedge funds to pay into a systemic risk fund; it passed with the overwhelming support of the committee, 52-17. A bipartisan measure to audit the Federal Reserve also passed without Frank’s support.
The final bill was barely out of the House before Frank was on CNBC, claiming victory but cautioning that the Fed provision — the most celebrated populist measure in the bill — threatened the institution’s “independence.”
Maybe the Weiss family’s contributions had something to do with Frank’s lukewarm support for more substantial reforms. Or Baker’s, or Vincent’s, or the MFA’s. Or those of any one of the deep-pocketed Wall Street supporters that Frank has cultivated since rising to a leadership post on the financial services committee.
For years, Frank was a mediocre fundraiser. In 2002, he was ranked 185th out of 215 Democrats in the House in total fundraising take. Previous years were similarly unimpressive. That all changed in late 2002, when he became the most important Democrat on the financial services committee, replacing Rep. John LaFalce. In the following election cycle, Frank increased his fundraising five-fold, from $268,000 to $1.4 million. He cruised to re-election, though Democrats failed to take back the House that year.
Due to his leadership of the finance committee, Frank derived the greatest share of his cash, and his newfound power, from Wall Street. He consistently raised more than 50 percent of his campaign contributions from the finance, insurance, and real estate industry, often referred to as “FIRE” — essentially the bundle of interests that had the most to gain from the housing bubble. By contrast, before becoming ranking Democrat, the FIRE share of his money hovered around 25 percent.
Remarkably, only two members of the House have taken in a larger share of their money from Wall Street over the past two campaign cycles — Paul Kanjorski, a Democrat, and Spencer Bachus, a Republican. And during the 2006 cycle, Frank took in more money from FIRE than any other Democratic member of the House, and all but a few Republicans.
In 2009, Frank has taken in 48 percent of his contributions from FIRE, more than $400,000. Only one Democrat, Jim Himes, has raised more from Wall Street. Melissa Bean, that darling of Wall Street, actually trails Frank by several thousand dollars.
To put Frank’s funding mix in perspective, for every 20 Wall Street donors calling his office, there are two union presidents, one healthcare executive, and a handful of activists and business executives in other industries. (Check out this awe-inspiring graph, to grasp this more fully.)
With all that big money behind him, it’s no wonder Frank has gone virtually unchallenged in his recent electoral campaigns. And he has used his Wall Street war chest to fund other Democrats across the country, building his influence and power within the party. It is that power, both symptom and cause of his chairmanship of Financial Services, that made him the Democratic Party’s point man on the financial crisis in fall 2008.
…By relying on Stewart and Roslanowick during the unfurling of the financial crisis, Frank has looked to the very enablers of the recent financial catastrophe to remedy the current situation. Both staffers played key roles in shaping the Clinton-era financial reforms that drove the U.S. economy to the brink last year. And as Frank negotiated bailouts and steered financial reform legislation through Congress, they’ve been two of his top lieutenants.
Michael Paese, Frank’s deputy staff director at the financial services committee until 2007, is now a registered lobbyist for Goldman Sachs. He has been lobbying Congress on issues related to financial reform for the past year. At least two other top Frank donors, Mitchell Feuer and Michael Berman, also lobby for Goldman Sachs.
…Frank counted himself among the reformers. But how could someone so dependent on Wall Street for fundraising dollars present any meaningful opposition to the financial industry’s agenda? Any tug-of-war inside that chamber would have consisted of everyone pulling in one direction, and all falling down.
…The truly remarkable thing about the Barney Frank phenomenon is that liberal advocacy groups continued to treat the Congressman as an ally during the financial reform process. Public Citizen issued a press release that criticized parts of the bill, but thanked Frank for his work. Marcy Wheeler of Firedoglake called him a “good progressive,” fighting the good fight against banking interests. ActBlue, the progressive political action committee, is Frank’s biggest donor this cycle.
Meanwhile, Frank has spent much of the last seven years cultivating relationships with individuals like Richard Baker and Andrew Weiss, Wall Street executives and lobbyists who leverage their influence to game the democratic process. The Weiss family and its hedge funds have actually outspent ActBlue on Barney Frank this cycle — all during that fateful summer of 2009, when meaningful derivatives reform was still on the table.
The numbers don’t lie. Forget Fannie or Freddie — Wall Street owns Barney Frank. He has been lifted to power by the entire class of Wall Street financiers that brought the U.S. economy to the brink.
Why should he abandon them now?