There's been a lot of head-scratching and eye-rolling since American Banker's Barb Rehm broke the news that Tim Pawlenty is joining the Financial Services Roundtable as the lobbying group's new CEO.
And that's not just because the move required Pawlenty to step down as co-chair of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's campaign just 48 days before the election.
Many wondered why a former Wall Street critic would sign on as head of one of the big banks' more well-known lobbying groups. Bloomberg News reporter Max Abelson tweeted several video clips in which one-time presidential hopeful Pawlenty bragged about telling Wall Street "to get its snout of the trough" since the industry's one of "the worst offenders when it comes to bailouts and carveouts and special deals."
"You see, this right here shows exactly where many politician's hearts [are] at," one commenter wrote on The Hill's Finance and Economy Blog. "They are in the game just to get bought out and manipulated by Wall Street."
One could argue Pawlenty's intentions are noble. In an interview following the announcement of his hiring, he said among other things that banks should "stop doing stupid things" and that regulations are needed, so long as they don't overreach and stifle investment and economic growth. (You can find American Banker's full breakdown of the interview here.)
But the most positive quote we could track down regarding his career change, written in response to a Newsday article, was "Maybe he just needs the better pay to support his family" – although that seemed like more of a dig at the reported near $2 million salary Pawlenty will be paid.
Pawlenty's personal motivations aside, many felt the hire made sense for the Financial Services Roundtable, since, as this Washington Post article points out, it fortifies the megabank lobbying group's "relationship with the current Republican establishment" and increases its odds of pushing a rollback of Dodd-Frank (a reform of the reform, if you will) through Congress, even if President Obama is re-elected.
"[Pawlenty] was hired by this lobby[ing] firm for his political connections," one reader commented on a CNN blog.
What impact do you think Pawlenty is likely to have on banking policy? Let us know in the comments section below.
Jeanine Skowronski is the deputy editor of BankThink.