Why Obama Needs To Name Names

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After President Barack Obama on Thursday delivered a speech on Wall Street reform in which he decried the “battalions of financial industry lobbyists descending on Capitol Hill, as firms spend millions to influence the outcome of this debate,” I noted that the president had done “what too many politicians often do when they describe how special interests game Washington; he stayed vague.” That is, he named no names. He didn’t call out the specific firms, CEOS, or lobbyists trying to thwart the financial regulation reform legislation he’s pushing. Today, ThinkProgress shows why it would be important if Obama did that: because, naturally, the lobbyists themselves refuse to out themselves.

As Obama was delivering that speech in New York City, financial lobbyists were holding a fundraiser in Washington for Senate Republicans. The obvious goal: help those who have been helping Big Finance block Wall Street reform. ThinkProgress reports:

The invitation to the fundraiser, obtained by the Party Time blog of the Sunlight Foundation, shows that the it was hosted by lobbyists Wendy Grubb, Kirsten Chadwick, Scott Reed, and a variety of corporate PACs. Grubb is a top lobbyist for Citigroup, a bank that took taxpayer TARP funds and has yet to repay them. Chadwick, a former staffer to Rep. Roy Blunt (R-MO), is a lobbyist for Zurich Financial Group, a financial services conglomerate.

ThinkProgress, along with several other journalists, waited outside of the fundraiser at the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) building. Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) walked quickly past reporters into his car, refusing to take questions. Both Sens. Cornyn and George Lemieux (R-FL) dodged reporters by driving into the NRSC’s underground lot. Although ThinkProgress tried to ask both GOP lawmakers and the other attendees of the fundraiser about regulation reform legislation, only Charlie Black spoke to us. Black is a longtime corporate lobbyist who now represents a variety of investment banks, including Goldman Sachs, within a trade group called the “Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association.”

ThinkProgress attempted to talk to the attendees of the event, but everyone other than Black refused to even provide their names.

And that’s on this delicious video:

 

According to Obama, these guys are attempting to thwart legislation that is essential for the security of the US economy. The public ought to know who they are.

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THE TRUTH...

is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

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