Senior campaign advisor Broderick Johnson was paid over $1 million to lobby for Wall St. over the past five years
The Obama campaign is keeping mum on the role senior advisor Broderick Johnson played in lobbying for the 2008 Wall Street bailout when he worked as a hired gun for the country’s largest financial services companies.
Johnson’s past work as a lobbyist was noted in the press when he was appointed a top Obama surrogate in late October, but not the details of his extensive and lucrative work for the financial services industry. Johnson’s hiring despite his recent work for Wall Street strikes a dissonant note in view of the Obama camp’s reported strategy of “channeling anti-Wall Street anger” as a way to take on the Republicans.
Records show that in 2008, as an employee at Washington law firm Bryan Cave, Johnson lobbied for the $700 billion TARP bailout on behalf of the Financial Services Forum, which is composed of the CEOs of the 20 biggest financial institutions doing business in the United States. Forum members include big names like Goldman Sachs, UBS, AIG, Bank of America and Deutsche Bank.
From 2007 through the first quarter of 2011, Johnson and a handful of other Bryan Cave lobbyists were paid $450,000 by the Financial Services Forum, records show. Johnson and a small number of colleagues brought in a total of $1.3 million to Bryan Cave from the financial services industry over the past five years. That includes work he did for Fannie Mae, Bank of America, J.P. Morgan Chase, the Electronic Payments Coalition and the investment firm J.C. Flowers.
Asked for details about Johnson’s work on the bailout, an Obama campaign spokesperson responded only that “Broderick is no longer a lobbyist — he deregistered in April — and he will not discuss any matters related to his clients with the campaign or administration.”
Because of the campaign’s reticence, we don’t know many of the details of Johnson’s work for the Financial Services Forum beyond the fact that at the height of the fall 2008 crisis, he lobbied on the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act, which created the $700 billion TARP program. After the House narrowly defeated the first version of the bill in late September 2008, Financial Services Forum executive Rob Nichols sounded the alarm.
“Just as the cardiovascular system is the essential, life-sustaining system of the body, the financial system is the essential basis upon which the growth and vitality of all other sectors of the economy depend,” Nichols said. “We believe this legislation is critically important and should be enacted into law at the earliest possible time in order restore market stability and increase credit availability for Americans.”
Resentment over the bailouts lingers across the political spectrum, from the Tea Party to the Occupy movement. Supporters of the program point to the fact that much of the money has been paid back with interest; critics argue that it failed Main Street and that, in the words of Elizabeth Warren, the money given to banks had “no strings attached, no accountability, no transparency.” The Obama campaign declined to comment when asked whether the hiring of a former bailout lobbyist undercuts Obama’s critical message on Wall Street.
Johnson is known as an extremely well-connected Democratic operative. The husband of NPR’s Michele Norris, he has been through the revolving door a few times, working variously as a Capitol Hill staffer, lobbyist and Clinton administration official. Mary Beth Cahill, campaign manager for John Kerry’s 2004 presidential bid, told the Hill in 2008 that in his work for that campaign Johnson possessed a “smooth and adept way of managing crises” and “knew everybody.”
In February 2009, just as the new administration was getting underway and with Johnson fresh off his stint as an informal advisor to the Obama campaign, he touted his connections with the White House in an interview with Roll Call. “We are seeing growth across the board,” he said. “Health care, energy and financial services are key issues in 2009 where we have both expertise and strong relationships on the Hill and in the new administration.”
Johnson has lobbied for a lengthy roster of large corporate clients. His work for TransCanada, the company that wants to build the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, has already been explored in the media. In the past five years, he has also worked for Shell; Verizon; Anheuser Busch; Microsoft; Comcast; the Biotechnology Industry Organization; the trade group for the cable TV industry; private prison giant the GEO Group; and the Talx Corp., which specializes in helping employers fight unemployment claims and which has been criticized for shoddy and unfair practices.
More Related Stories
- If Alex Pareene was a cable news executive...
- El Salvador court delays ruling on abortion case while woman's life hangs in the balance
- UK officials: Radical Islam behind London attack
- Pa. governor "can't find" any Latinos to work in his administration
- London machete attack could be linked to terrorism
- Conservative group blames military sexual assault on "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" repeal
- Lois Lerner, IRS disaster
- Donald Rumsfeld worried that marriage equality will lead to polygamy
- Experts: Fox News spying scandal a game-changer
- San Francisco Giant Jeremy Affeldt apologizes for homophobic past
- 9-year-old slams Rahm over Chicago schools
- Stockholm riots rage for third day
- Wall Street firm's "Golden Pitchbook" is totally sexist, full of lies
- Must-see morning clip: Toronto's eccentric and allegedly crack-smoking mayor
- Federal court strikes down Arizona abortion ban
- Jodi Arias: I deserve a second chance
- Oklahoma residents return home to pick up the pieces
- Florida man with connection to Tsarnaev killed by FBI
- FBI identifies 5 Benghazi suspects
- Here come the tornado truthers. Already
- Peace Corps to allow gay couples to volunteer together
Featured Slide Shows
The week in 10 picsclose X
- 1 of 11
Lisa Montgomery embraces her nephew Thursday after a tornado tore apart her home in Cleburne, Texas. The twister killed six people and destroyed entire swaths of the North Texas town.
Credit: AP/LM Otero
Jack McMahon, the defense attorney for abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell, speaks outside the Criminal Justice Center in Philadelphia Tuesday. His client was convicted of killing three babies in his clinic, and will serve multiple life sentences.
Credit: AP/Matt Rourke
A photo taken Monday captures Vice President Joe Biden's response to a Milwaukee second-grader's innovative proposal to end America's epidemic of gun violence. This guy!
Credit: AP/Jenny Aicher
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., flanked by a grouper-eyed Michele Bachmann, addresses the IRS' admission that it targeted Tea Party groups in advance of the 2012 election. In an op-ed for CNN Thursday, the Kentucky senator slammed the president for his faux outrage.
Credit: AP/Molly Riley
Ousted IRS chief Steven Miller is sworn in on Capitol Hill Friday. Miller testified before the House Ways and Means Committee on the extra scrutiny the agency gave conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status.
Credit: AP/J. Scott Applewhite
Attorney General Eric Holder pauses as he testifies on Capitol Hill before the House Judiciary Committee Wednesday. Holder is under fire, among other things, for the Justice Department's gathering of phone records at the Associated Press.
Credit: AP/Carolyn Kaster
O.J. Simpson sits during an evidentiary hearing at Clark County District Court in Las Vegas, Nev., Thursday. Simpson, who is currently serving a nine-to-33-year sentence in state prison for armed robbery and kidnapping, is using a writ of habeas corpus to seek a new trial.
Credit: AP/Las Vegas Review-Journal/Jeff Scheid
Major Tom to ground control: On Sunday astronaut Chris Hadfield recorded the first music video from space, a cover of David Bowie's "Space Oddity."
Credit: AP/NASA/Chris Hadfield
When it rains it pours. President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference Thursday with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, inexplicably inspiring an #umbrellagate Twitter meme.
Credit: AP/Jacquelyn Martin
A smoke plume rises high above a road block at the intersection of County A and Ross Road east of Solon Springs, Wis., Tuesday. No injuries were reported, but the the wildfire caused evacuations across northwestern Wisconsin.
Credit: AP/The Duluth News-Tribune/Clint Austin
Recent Slide Shows
- 1 of 11