Why Obama Needs To Name Names


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.

IT'S TIME TO TALK ABOUT MEDIA BIAS

We believe that journalism needs to stand for something right now. That the press is the enemy of secrecy and corruption. That reporting without a sense of right and wrong only helps liars and propagandists succeed. And that we're in this fight for the long haul.

So we're hoping to raise $30,000 in new monthly donations this fall. Read our argument for journalism that is fair and accurate and stands for something—and join us with a tax-deductible monthly donation (or make a one-time gift) if you agree.

  • David Corn

    David Corn is Mother Jones' Washington bureau chief and an on-air analyst for MSNBC. He is the co-author (with Michael Isikoff) of Russian Roulette: The Inside Story of Putin’s War on America and the Election of Donald Trump. He is the author of three New York Times bestsellers, Showdown, Hubris (with Isikoff), and The Lies of George W. Bush, as well as the e-book, 47 Percent: Uncovering the Romney Video that Rocked the 2012 Election. For more of his stories, click here. He's also on Twitter and Facebook.