Oct 19, 2011 3:46 AM GMT
After the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee sent a recent email urging supporters to sign a petition backing the wave of Occupy Wall Street protests, phones at the party committee started ringing.
Banking executives personally called the offices of DCCC Chairman Steve Israel (D-N.Y.) and DCCC Finance Chairman Joe Crowley (D-N.Y.) last week demanding answers, three financial services lobbyists told POLITICO.
“They were livid,” said one Democratic lobbyist with banking clients.
The execs asked the lawmakers: “What are you doing? Do you even understand some of the things that they’ve called for?” said another lobbyist with financial services clients who is a former Democratic Senate aide.
Democrats’ friends on Wall Street have a message for them: you can’t have it both ways.
President Barack Obama and other top Democrats are parroting the anti-corporate rhetoric running through the Occupy Wall Street protests, trying to tap into the movement’s energy but keep the protesters at arms’ length.
But many bankers aren’t buying the distinction. And some financial services lobbyists and industry insiders say the liberal line will make swing givers think twice before opening their checkbooks this year.
“Most Wall Street guys, they feel like they’re going to be burned in effigy,” said Anthony Scaramucci, managing partner of SkyBridge Capital, who gave to Obama in 2008 but is now fundraising for Mitt Romney. Some moderate donors, who have given to both parties, “fled from Obama in his support of the Wall Street protests,” he said.
In 2008 Obama edged out John McCain in Wall Street fundraising and Democrats overall raised about as much as Republicans. Giving patterns went back to normal in 2010 when the GOP came out back on top.
This cycle Democrats have a particularly tough sell, since they pushed through a financial regulatory reform law last year and Mitt Romney has emerged as a Republican presidential front-runner, whose deep Wall Street ties clash with Obama’s recent populist overtures. The lip service to occupiers is only hurting an already rocky relationship.
“You can’t have it both ways,” said one in-house financial services lobbyist. “It just makes it harder for people who are Democrats in New York, Boston, Chicago to on the one hand be demogagued and then be asked ‘Hey, you can get your picture with the president for $30,000.’ It doesn’t square.”