In March, Senator Mark Warner (D-VA) led members from both parties in introducing legislation to delay the implementation of the Volcker Rule, a new regulation to limit risky trading by big banks. He was joined by Pat Toomey (R-PA), one of the biggest proponents of financial deregulation in the Senate. The legislation may come back to haunt Warner, who has cultivated close financial ties with J.P. Morgan Chase & Co.
Until the news last week, revealing that J.P. Morgan lost at least $2 billion due to a synthetic credit securities trading scheme, the bank had been leading an impressive lobbying campaign to weaken financial reform. The bank’s CEO, Jamie Dimon, and his legions of K Street lobbyists (over 48 registered lobbyists), had worked to chisel away at the Volcker Rule. The measure, scheduled for implementation this summer, would have applied to the type of trading that resulted in the loses for the bank.
An analyst with Guggenheim Securities recently observed that a delay in the Volcker Rule would be a very positive step for big banks like J.P. Morgan.
Just as J.P. Morgan’s lobbying now faces new scrutiny, Warner’s ties to the investment bank should be placed under the microscope. The Huffington Post noted that in the first three months of last year, the senator had received over a quarter of his donations from the bank, which had organized a fundraiser in his honor. But the ties between Warner and J.P. Morgan run deep. A Republic Report review of Warner’s personal finance disclosures reveal that the Virginia senator keeps a large amount of his money invested with Dimon’s bank. Most surprising is the fact that Warner is among the elite group of investors with money in Highbridge Capital, a J.P. Morgan-owned hedge fund that might be affected by the Volcker Rule.
Some highlights from the Warner disclosure:
Warner invests up to $5,015,000 in J.P. Morgan’s Strategic IncomeOpportunities Fund
Warner invests up to $5,015,000 in J.P. Morgan’s Asia Equity Fund
Warner invests up to $600,000 in J.P. Morgan’s Tax Free Bond Fund
Warner invests up to $250,000 in J.P. Morgan’s Tax Free Reserve Sweep Fund
Warner invests up to $1,000,000 in J.P. Morgan’s U.S. Equity Fund
Warner invests up to $5,000,000 in J.P. Morgan’s Highbridge Capital
Warner invests up to $5,000,000 in J.P. Morgan’s Highbridge Quantitative Commodities
As MarketWatch noted, Highbridge Capital is 100 percent owned by J.P. Morgan, and the bank has refused to disassociate itself from the hedge fund despite the Volcker Rule mandate that investment banks spin off hedge funds.
Warner isn’t the only high profile politician to attack the Volcker Rule while maintaining substantial financial ties to J.P. Morgan. As I reported for ThinkProgress, Congressman Darrell Issa (R-CA) invested in several big banks, including J.P. Morgan, while sending threatening letters to regulators to delay the Volcker Rule. Issa was assisted by a former executive with Goldman Sach’s lobbying office who now works as a congressional staffer under Issa.
Republic Report is an investigative news blog dedicated uncovering the corrupting influence of money in politics.