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March 18, 2009

Fox in Henhouse: Kanjorski Chairs AIG Hearing

Posted in: AIG,Financial Crisis

(Note: FDL liveblogging of today’s AIG hearings continues.)

Rep. Paul Kanjorski opened today’s questioning of Edward Liddy with a jaw-dropper: Kanjorski had numerous discussions with Liddy and knew about the contracts (which included the contentious bonuses) for a minimum of four to six weeks. He says he requested supporting documents, but, when AIG was not forthcoming, he evidently did not bring this to the attention of the Financial Services committee and move for a subpoena of the information, nor did he move to stop the bonuses going ahead.

No surprise, Kanjorski has been in the tank for bank lobbyists for decades, and voted for every piece of bank written anti-regulatory legislation that has come before him. Along with the fabulous Bob Ney, he was the cosponsor of the Ney-Kanjorski bill which would have removed all state restrictions on predatory lending, under the guise of getting more subprime loans into mintority communities. It was a disgusting piece of legislation loudly denounced by the NAACP and others.

And it isn’t going over well in his district. Polling done at the time of the election put him at 39% approval rating, so lobbyists from the Financial Services Roundtable threw a shindig for him, fearing that he might not make it over the wire:

The Democratic members of Congress who were singled out at the event included Sen. Tom Harkin (Iowa), a member of the Senate’s Small Business and Entrepreneurship committee; Rep. Joe Crowley (N.Y.), a member of the House Ways and Means committee, which has jurisdiction over taxation issues; and the chairman of the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Capital Markets, Insurance and Government-Sponsored Enterprises, Rep. Paul Kanjorski (Pa.). One lobbyist for the financial services industry confided that he’s worried about Kanjorski’s re-election chances. Perhaps that explains why the finance/insurance and real estate sector has contributed $755,000 toward Kanjorski’s 2008 campaign, making him one of the top recipients of money from insurers, credit unions, mortgage banks and brokers and hedge funds. Kanjorski and Crowley have received contributions from the Roundtable’s PAC in the 2008 cycle.

Kanjorski’s subcommittee is tasked with looking into systemic risk within the financial system, certainly something that critically needs to be addressed right now. Who did Kanjorski think the subcommittee needed to hear from on the subject?

The Honorable Richard H. Baker, President and Chief Executive Officer, Managed Funds Association. LOBBYIST:

Rep. Richard Baker (R-La.) will leave Congress to lead a lobbying association that represents the hedge fund industry, the group said Tuesday.

The Honorable Steve Bartlett, President and Chief Executive Officer, The Financial Services Roundtable. LOBBYIST:

A Dallas political wunderkind who served eight years in Congress, Mr. Bartlett is firmly ensconced these days in what he calls his "fourth career" – and it’s a busy one.

As lobbyist-in-chief for the country’s 100 largest financial services firms, Mr. Bartlett calls his duties intense.

The revolving door between Congress and lobbying firms is alive and well, and facilitated by Kanjorski. The idea that he will do a good job of discounting the influence of lobbyists in the process of doing what needs to be done is quite ridiculous.



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