U.S. Rep. Barney Frank, in an intensifying clash with GOP upstart Sean Bielat, has pledged not to take campaign cash from lenders that got federal bailouts — yet has raked in more than $40,000 from bank execs and special interests connected to the staggering government loans, a Herald review found.
Frank vowed in February 2009 that he wouldn’t accept campaign donations from banks that received money under the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) or political action committees tied to such institutions.
But Frank has hauled in thousands from top execs at Bank of America, Citizens Bank, Wainwright Bank, JP Morgan Chase and other institutions that received billions in TARP money.
Just yesterday, Frank made new campaign finance disclosures showing he received $17,000 from top executives of Bank of America — including $2,000 from CEO Brian Moynihan. B of A received $45 billion in bailout money. In all, Frank has hauled in at least $27,000 since 2009 from bank execs — and $13,000 from PACs — connected to banks that received TARP funding, including:
• $5,000 earlier this month from the Bank of America Corp. Federal PAC;
• $10,000 in August and September from the Bipartisan PAC/Bank of New York Mellon Corp.; Mellon received $3 billion from TARP;
• $2,000 in June 2009 from the Financial Services Roundtable PAC, which counts TARP recipients B of A, JP Morgan Chase and Wells Fargo among its members; and
• $1,000 in March from U.S. Bancorp PAC; the Minnesota-based bank received more than $6 billion in TARP funds.
“Now that he’s in the political fight of his life, Barney Frank tossed aside his phony pledge and lined his pockets with cash from his closest allies — Wall Street executives,” said National Republican Congressional Committee spokesman Tory Mazzola. “He made a promise to voters, but obviously he cares more about saving his career as a politician than with keeping his word.”
In a statement last night, a Frank spokesman said the congressman has declined to take contributions only from the top 10 TARP recipients, but he noted he would accept donations from those institutions once they repaid their debts. The spokesman said none of the donations cited by the Herald violated that policy.
Meanwhile, in a release responding to a Herald report yesterday that Bielat is tapping Wall Street bigwigs in a bid to force Frank into a Martha Coakley-style collapse, Frank said, “Mr. Bielat’s eagerness to serve as the agent of those wealthy Wall Streeters who seek to undo the financial reform bill explains why this race has become so expensive and why it is so important in order to prevent another economic crisis.”
The 15-term Democratic congressman pumped $200,000 of his own cash into his campaign this week and has spent $700,000 in the first two weeks of October. His war chest has $650,000 to Bielat’s $420,000. Bielat, a 35-year-old Marine, reported he has raised $650,000 so far in October, records show.
In a Feb. 23, 2009, article in the Washington publication Roll Call, Frank is quoted saying, “I won’t take any PAC money from banks that took TARP funds, nor would I take it from the top executive.” The article made no mention of the policy only applying to the top 10 TARP fund recipients. Frank said he floated the loan to his campaign to counter an expected flood of right-wing attack ads, including from the national Tea Party.