WASHINGTON — When the Senate Banking Committee meets Wednesday to question Jamie Dimon about the massive trading loss at JPMorgan Chase (JPM), its five most senior members will have one thing in common: a heavy reliance on campaign contributions from the politically connected New York bank.
JPMorgan is Banking Committee Chairman Tim Johnson's second-largest contributor over the last two-plus decades, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, which analyzes campaign giving from companies' employees and their political action committees since 1989. The same is true for the committee's top Republican, Sen. Richard Shelby, and its second-ranking Democrat, Sen. Jack Reed.
The committee's number-two Republican, Sen. Mike Crapo, and its third-ranking Democrat, Sen. Charles Schumer, are not far behind their colleagues, with JPMorgan ranking third and fourth, respectively, among their contributors.
But campaign contributions are just one manifestation of JPMorgan's intense, enduring involvement in both Democratic and Republican politics in Washington. The bank's long political shadow will hang over Wednesday's hearing, although several observers were skeptical that it will buy Dimon any favors in such a high-fprofile public setting.
"Contributions are useful, but they do not protect you when you have gotten in trouble in a high visibility way," said Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia's Center for Politics. "That description fits Dimon just now."
Still, the hearing places numerous senators, Senate staffers, and former staffers in an uncomfortable position, in part because it puts a spotlight on the revolving door between the Senate Banking Committee and K Street.
Dwight Fettig, who currently serves as a top aide to Johnson as the Banking Committee's staff director, is a former lobbyist at Porterfield & Lowenthal who did work for JPMorgan in 2009 and 2010. In addition, a former top aide to Johnson, Naomi Camper, is one of JPMorgan's chief lobbyists.
Sean Oblack, a Banking Committee spokesman, released a statement Tuesday defending Johnson's record with respect to JPMorgan, noting the South Dakota Democrat was the first committee chairman to call Dimon to testify about the firm's trading loss. "While Senate and House Republicans, along with Mr. Dimon, have fought to weaken or repeal the Wall Street Reform Act, no one has been a stronger defender of the law than Chairman Johnson," the statement said.
The statement also noted: "Dwight Fettig has served for more than 16 years on Chairman Johnson's staff, and the chairman has complete confidence in his integrity, judgment and independence."
It is not just Johnson who has close ties to JPMorgan, which declined an opportunity to comment on the record for this article. In-house lobbyists for the bank include Kate Childress, a former aide to Schumer, and Steven Patterson, a former Republican staff director of a Senate banking subcommittee.
Additionally, three outside lobbyists for the bank have formerly worked for the Banking Committee or one of its members, according to information compiled by First Street Research Group, which publishes reports on Washington lobbying.
Jason Rosenberg, a lobbyist for The Glover Park Group, is a former aide to Democratic Sen. Jon Tester, who sits on the Banking Committee. Jenn Fogel-Bublick, a lobbyist at McBee Strategic Consulting, is a former Democratic counsel on the Banking Committee. And Mike Chappell, a lobbyist for Fierce, Isakowitz & Blalock, is a former press assistant to Republican Sen. Roger Wicker, also a member of the Banking Committee.
Dimon, who has been chief executive officer of JPMorgan since 2006, has a reputation as a savvy political player, and the bank's lobbying expenditures have increased under his leadership.