Republicans quietly huddle with bank lobbyists (again)

REPUBLICANS QUIETLY HUDDLE WITH BANK LOBBYISTS (AGAIN)…. Senate Republicans recently struggled to explain the propriety of GOP leaders Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and John Cornyn (R-Texas) huddling with hedge fund managers and Wall Street elites, strategizing on how best to kill financial regulatory reform. But as bad as that looked, yesterday was arguably even uglier.

[Yesterday afternoon], President Obama traveled to New York to tell the nation’s most influential bankers to call off their “battalions of financial industry lobbyists” and embrace a new regulatory structure meant to avert another economic crisis. But around the same time back in Washington, D.C., bank lobbyists hosted a fundraiser for Senate Republicans, including Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), who has become the Republican liaison for Wall Street fundraising.

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.

The event was held at the headquarters of the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC), and was ostensibly a fundraiser for Florida Sen. George LeMieux (R) — who isn’t seeking another term, and doesn’t really need to be raising money.

After the Sunlight Foundation obtained and posted the invitation to the gathering, a few outlets sent folks to cover the event. But senators, lobbyists, and assorted elites were not in a chatty mood — attendees refused to answer questions, and all but one of the senators decided to not even use the front door.

Evan McMorris-Santoro explained why they might have been embarrassed: “There’s nothing new about politicians in Washington having closed-press meetings with lobbyists. There’s not anything new about politicians fundraising at those meetings. But this event came at the exact moment Obama was taking on one of Washington’s most powerful lobbies — the financial industry — on its home turf…. [W]hile Obama took on lobbyists, the GOP fed them.”

It’s not exactly surprising, but there is an impressive shameless quality to the whole thing.