Banks and other financial companies expecting to make more than US$200 billion from anticipated deregulation laws spent record amounts on lobbying in the last election cycle, according to an advocacy group report released Wednesday.
The financial sector spent a staggering US$2 billion on political activity from the beginning of 2015 to the end of 2016, including US$1.2 billion in campaign contributions — more than twice the amount given by any other business sector, according to the study from Americans for Financial Reform.
That works out to US$3.7 million per member of Congress and is the most ever tracked by the group, which analyzed spending data going back to 1990.
However, the actual amount is probably higher, because the data did not include so-called "dark money," which are funds donated to political advocates by nonprofit groups.
Wells Fargo, Citigroup, Prudential Financial and Goldman Sachs Group all spent more than US$10 million each, the report said.
Goldman Sachs released Tuesday an investment analysis saying that large money center banks stood to profit significantly from the kind of financial deregulation expected from Republican President Donald Trump's administration and a Republican Congress.
As much as US$218 billion in excess capital could be returned to shareholders or reinvested in the banks themselves if all the deregulation the industry is seeking comes about.
Among senators not running for president, Charles Schumer (D-NY), now the minority leader, received the largest amount, with US$5.3 million coming from financial firms. Mike Crapo, the Republican chairman of the Senate Banking Committee and who was also in the top 10 in the Senate, received US$2.1 million.
Jeb Hensarling, the Republican chairman of the House Financial Services Committee who favors financial deregulation, received US$1.9 million.
Trump has repeatedly promised to “drain the swamp” and crack down on lobbying activities in the U.S. congress. However, he has packed his administrations with millionaires and billionaires who worked for many of the firms involved in the lobbying.
It is also unlikely that Trump would seek radical changes to lobbying laws and regulations as many Republican lawmakers benefit handsomely from such activities.
Former presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders and many of his supporters have been very vocal against corporate-friendly lawmakers and members of the Democratic Party.
However, the party recently elected business-friendly Tom Perez as the chair of the Democratic National Committee, defeating Congressman Keith Ellison.