It's no secret that politicians constantly travel to Wall Street to raise money from the deep-pocketed financial industry executives. It happens all the time, and the financial crisis didn't change much. Senate Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd, D-CT, recently reiterated that this is a good reason to enact public financing of campaigns!
But suddenly, as Congress is about to regulate Wall Street, the rhetoric is getting ugly, and such forays north to the Big Apple are demonized.
Fox News Business Correspondent Charlie Gasparino broke the story that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-KY, and Sen. John Cornyn, R-TX, head of the GOP campaign effort, recently traveled to Wall Street to meet with bankers, to raise money.
McConnell came back and attacked the Dodd regulatory reform bill as a "bailout." Suddenly, the White House and Senate Democrats found themselves on defense, trying to explain why the bill did not leave taxpayers vulnerable to another bailout. Then the White House made a bold step, getting ahead of Chairman Dodd, telling members the fund that was to be used to wind down failing firms was OUT.
Democrats, as part of their defense, grabbed onto the Fox story and repeated it at every turn. Suddenly, Fox couldn't be quoted enough.
McConnell became the target of attacks from all quarters, including in the President's Saturday radio address.
Then Republicans decided to strike back on the fundraising-in-New-York front, reminding reporters that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-NV, recently traveled to that famous street in New York, as well, to raise money from none other than financial giant Goldman Sachs, now under an SEC investigation for alleged fraud.
Reid was suddenly hit with questions of his own about this fundraiser that raised $37,000, questions he dodged on Tuesday.
"Clearly, I'm leading the effort to rein in Wall Street...I''m going to make sure that in this legislation I do everything within my ability to make sure that banks aren't too big to fail," Reid told reporters at his weekly news conference.
Reid spokesman Jim Manley readily confirmed the meeting and made no bones about the Majority Leader keeping his campaign donations from the bank, reiterating that Reid is slapping the cuffs on bad Wall Street behavior as an explanation.
When asked by a reporter directly if he would return any campaign contributions, Reid merely turned and walked away.
It should be noted that the National Republican Senatorial Committee, the GOP re-election effort, sent out an even longer list of donations to Reid from Goldman executives, culled, they say, from Reid campaign FEC filing. Fox sought comment from the campaign but heard nothing back. Fox is looking into the contributions and will report more later.
Meanwhile, the negotiations on a compromise bill are still ongoing, and aides to the negotiators say a deal is getting closer.
Either way, Reid has said he is moving forward on a bill next week, with or without Republican support. Republicans, for their part, appear to be firm in their position that the Senate should not start debate until the compromise talks yield a bipartisan solution.