Friends of Traditional Banking: A Super PAC for bankers

Frustrated by their lack of political power, the nation's bankers have set up their own campaign donation fund

Paul Sancya/AP/File
Campaign worker Stephen Carra, 23, of Kalamazoo, Mich., holds a box for donations at a Republican presidential candidate Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, rally in Hudsonville, Mich. in this file photo. Private bankers have set up their own donation Super PAC, called Friends of Traditional Banking.

You’d think banks had all the political friends they need.  After all, court cases have been going their way since 1811 when Master of the Rolls Sir William Grant ruled in Carr v. Carr that the term “debts” mentioned in a will included a cash balance in a bank deposit account. Grant ruled that since the money had been paid generally into the bank and was not earmarked in a sealed bag, it had become a loan rather than a bailment, thus codifying fractionalized banking.

However in this post-Dodd-Frank world, bankers are frustrated by a lack of political power and fed up with politicians who don’t vote their interests, reports American Banker.

“Congress isn’t afraid of bankers,” says Roger Beverage, the president and CEO of the Oklahoma Bankers Association. “They don’t think we’ll do anything to kick them out of office. We are trying to change that perception.”

So the Friends of Traditional Banking SuperPac is born to throw some big money at certain key races this fall.

A “surgical” strike at the industry’s enemies blares the headline.

It’s hard to know just how surgical it will be.  To read American Banker’s reporting sounds like this SuperPac is going to be run like a…well…bank.

Friends of Traditional Banking will ask contributors to pledge from $150 to $500 to two congressional races each election cycle. An advisory council will research races and select the candidates to be targeted. A board of directors will sign off on the selections, and then information will be sent to those who pledged funding explaining how to donate to a particular candidate.

It sounds like it would be easier to get approval for a construction loan to build a spec office building in Las Vegas than talking these guys into parting with campaign money.

Sheldon Adelson doesn’t have to convince any committees to keep Newt Gingrich in the race.  Foster Friess doesn’t require this kind of bureaucracy to funnel money to Rick Santorum.

But while the bankers are talking big,  they’re just hoping to cobble together a million dollars to start with.

“It would be nice to sit on the sidelines or sit on our hands and say, ‘Oh we don’t get involved in that stuff,’ but that just means you get run over,”Don Childears, the president and CEO of the Colorado Bankers Association told American Banker. “We need to get more deeply involved as an industry in supporting friends and trying to replace enemies.”

“Clearly there are Members of Congress who have absolutely no reservations about kicking traditional banks in the teeth, and we are tired of it,” says Utah Bankers Association president Howard Headlee. “We’ve got to be able to defend the folks who have the courage to stand up for us as well.

Wanted:  politicians who will protect the interests of bankers.

Can those be hard to find?

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