Lobbying

Big-Bank Nightmare on K Street


"Lobbyist" has always been something of a dirty word, so Washington's "government affairs executives," to use their preferred moniker, have tried to operate in relative obscurity. A campaign to put K Street, where many lobbyists' offices are located, in the spotlight is changing that.

A network of community organizers called the National People's Action in cooperation with the Service Employees International Union and the AFL-CIO sent hundreds of protesters to lobbyists' homes and offices in mid-May.

The effort was kicked off earlier this month when the SEIU and others released a 23-page report, "Big Bank Takeover: How Too-Big-To-Fail's Army of Lobbyists Has Captured Washington." Dozens of lobbyists are pictured on the cover, including Michael Paese of Goldman Sachs (GS) and Peter Scher of JPMorgan Chase (JPM). Mixed in with the standard shots of men in suits in front of the Capitol are photos culled from Facebook, including one of Citigroup (C) lobbyist Maura Solomon in a tank top and A.J. Wojciak, a former outside lobbyist for the bank, smiling under his baseball hat. Solomon's picture is no longer publicly available on the site. "This report makes one thing clear—we should pay more attention to who our friends on Facebook are," says Israel Klein, a principal at Podesta Group who was singled out for his work on behalf of Bank of America (BAC) and Wells Fargo (WFC).

BofA Deputy General Counsel Gregory Baer, who provides legal advice on regulatory and legislative activities, was summoned home on May 16 by his teenage son after hundreds of protesters swarmed his house chanting "Bank of America, bad for America." Baer, says a bank spokeswoman, isn't even a lobbyist.

The bottom line: Unions and consumer activists are determined not to let Washington lobbyists press Wall Street's case on regulatory reform in obscurity.

Schmidt is a reporter for Bloomberg News in Washington.

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