CHARLOTTE, N.C. U.S. Rep. Barney Frank told the Observer he is “very disappointed” in news that the American Bankers Association plans to create a fund to donate to super PACs targeting close Senate races involving pro-industry candidates.
“I think the ABA aught to be ashamed of itself,” the Massachusetts Democrat said in a brief interview at Time Warner Cable Arena Wednesday.
“I think they will do themselves a lot of harm with the public, pursuing the right to make the same kinds of mistakes they did before,” Frank said. “It kind of reminds me of what was said with the kings of France, when they returned to power after the revolution. Someone said, ‘Well, … They seemed to have forgotten everything.’ Reply was, ‘No, they didn’t forget anything; they didn’t ever learn anything in the first place.’ “
The comments were in response to a Bloomberg report that the ABA seeks to raise several million dollars to influence six to 12 Senate races. House Republicans have sought a roll-back of provisions in the Dodd-Frank financial reform law, but have been largely blocked by the Senate, where Democrats hold a slim majority.
The American Bankers Association described the fund as an “education and advocacy” initiative similar to those that many trade groups set up. “The board approved the proposal so that ABA can more effectively serve its members in today’s environment,” spokesman Jeff Sigmund said in an email.
Frank is the ranking member on the House Financial Services Committee and is the “Frank” in the reform law. He has said he will retire at the end of this term, his 16th.
Frank said he has met with several financial industry leaders during the convention in Charlotte, but hasn’t made a particular effort to seek them out.
“Brian Moynihan lives in my district, in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts,” Frank said. “I don’t have to come to North Carolina.”
He also said holding the convention in Charlotte, a major financial center, does not pose a problem for the Democratic Party as some have suggested.
Later Wednesday, Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts was critical of banks and Wall Street in her speech.
“It’s only in the minds of the media,” Frank said. “I don’t know any citizen who cares about that. Where people have the conventions is irrelevant.”
Frank said his party’s financial industry priority in the next session is to make sure financial reform is carried out by having the “right people in place” and keeping regulators fully funded.
Dunn: 704-358-5235 Twitter: @andrew_dunn
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