Dodd's successor: Senator Credit Card

Tim Johnson, the likely next chair of the Senate Banking Committee, is Visa and Citigroup's best friend

By Andrew Leonard
Published January 8, 2010 7:41PM (EST)

An unfortunate addendum to Wednesday's post speculating about what Sen. Chris Dodd's decision not to run for reelection might mean for financial regulatory reform.

Blogging at Capital Gains and Games, Pete Davis tells us that in his long experience watching and working in Washington, "lame duck committee chairs lack power" because "everyone below them is jockeying for power."

And who is the number one choice to replace Dodd as chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, presuming the Democrats hold on to their majority? South Dakota's Tim Johnson, the only Democrat who voted against last year's credit card reform act.

Bloomberg has the scoop. South Dakota has extremely lenient regulations on credit card companies, so Visa is headquartered there, as is Citigroup's credit card business.

Employees of two New York-based issuers of credit cards, Citigroup Inc. and JPMorgan Chase & Co., have given more in campaign donations to Johnson than anyone else throughout his congressional career, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a Washington-based research group. Citigroup employees and their families gave him $102,610 from 1989 through 2009, and JPMorgan employees and family members gave $52,335.

In addition, Bank of America Corp.'s employees and its PAC were among the top 20 donors to Johnson's 2008 campaign, according to, which monitors campaign contributions.

Davis' conclusion: The only way a reform bill gets out of the Senate is if the Consumer Financial Protection Agency is axed. And even getting consensus that far may be impossible in a particularly poisonous election year.

Andrew Leonard

Andrew Leonard is a staff writer at Salon. On Twitter, @koxinga21.

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Credit Cards How The World Works Tim Johnson