Attack of the Terrifying Zombie Lobbyist Army of Ex-Financial Regulators

lott3 Attack of the Terrifying Zombie Lobbyist Army of Ex Financial RegulatorsIn case you haven’t had a nice daily dose of rigorously bone-chilling financial news this afternoon, Eric Lichtblau’s Ex-Regulators Get Set to Lobby on New Financial Rules will do the trick. The Pulitzer winner found nearly 150 newly registered lobbyists who used to work for the government’s financial agencies, but who are now being hired in droves to lobby their former employers on behalf of banks like JP Morgan. They’ll try to influence the 243 financial rules that the recent financial reform bill left up in the air.

The last time very big banks decided to do a very large amount of lobbying on a very important issue—Basel III!—they got what they wanted.

This time around, the numbers are very scary. The S.E.C. is in charge of 95 rules on credit rating agencies, bonuses and derivative trading; the Commodity Futures Trading Commission gets 61; and the Federal Reserve, 54. Those agencies will be swayed by former colleagues who, back from the dead, are stronger than ever. “Government officials and lobbyists agree that former agency officials have a much easier time getting phone calls or e-mail messages returned from their old colleagues,” says Mr. Lichtbalu, “and that access often extends to greater credibility in arguing their clients’ positions.”

But the best quote in The Times article belongs to an anonymous regulator-turned-lobbyist. “The answer is yes, it does,” he said, asked whether his insider edge makes a difference. “If it didn’t, I wouldn’t be able to justify getting out of bed in the morning and charging the outrageous fees that we charge our clients, which they willingly pay.”

For more fun corporate lobbyist reading, try Steven Brill’s recent Time cover story, or this item on former Senate majority leader Trent Lott, whose new lobbying supergroup likes to think of itself as a “‘mandatory first stop’ for discerning corporate CEOs.”