The 15 freshman GOP representatives in the House Tea Party Caucus rode a populist, anti-bailout wave into Congress in 2010, castigating the federal government for its bailouts of Wall Street and the auto industry and their attendant contribution to the national debt. If they shared one thing in common it was the ire they reserved especially for the Wall Street "Too Big to Fail" bailout, otherwise known as the Troubled Assets Relief Program, a Bush administration initiative they hung around the neck of Bush's successor.
Yet according to an analysis of federal campaign contributions, voting records and public statements by the 15 conducted by the group ThinkProgress, each of those Tea Party freshmen has taken thousands of dollars from political action committees representing TARP-rescued financial institutions - most have also taken campaign cash from the American Bankers Association - and now they're effectively shills for Wall Street. What an amazing transformation. Not.
It turns out that Rep. Jeff Landry, R-New Iberia, is the least compromised among the group in terms of accepting gold from the dragon he promised to slay. According to ThinkProgress' tabulation, Landry only received $2,800 from PACs representing TARP-rescued institutions, and he received nothing from the ABA. In fact, Landry was the only member of the group to receive no contributions from the ABA. That's a far cry from the gargantuan haul of Rep. Stephen Fincher of Tennessee, whose coffer swelled by more than $156,000 thanks to cash from TARP entities and the American Bankers Association.
Twelve of the 15 have signed on as co-sponsors of House Resolution 3461, otherwise known as the Financial Institutions Examination Fairness and Reform Act, a Wall Street-friendly piece of legislation characterized by Americans for Financial Reform as a way to "tilt the playing field further in the direction of excessive deference to industry interests and tie the hands of regulators attempting to protect the public interest." In other words, a way to decrease federal oversight over the industry that crashed the U.S. into the Great Recession. The ABA has lobbied heavily - and dropped plenty of cash - for passage of HR 3461.
Landry joined on as a sponsor of the bill in March, as did his opponent this fall, Rep. Charles Boustany, R-Lafayette, who co-signed five days after Landry.
The Tea Party freshmen: From Earl Grey to Da Hong Pao.
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