JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon and Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon recently had private meetings with top Democratic Wall Street critic Maxine Waters

Key Points
  • J.P. Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon and Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon recently met in private with leading Wall Street critic Rep. Maxine Waters, who leads the powerful House banking panel, CNBC has learned.
  • Dimon and Solomon gave Waters their perspectives on a wide range of topics, including where they stand on the economy, and left the door open to a continued dialogue, people said on the condition of anonymity.
  • It was unclear what specific concerns and ideas the CEOs expressed to Waters, who has vowed sharp scrutiny of Wall Street and its practices.
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Rep. Maxine Waters meets with Bank CEOs Dimon, Solomon

DAVOS, Switzerland — J.P. Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon and Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon recently met in private with leading Wall Street critic Rep. Maxine Waters, who leads the powerful House banking panel, people with direct knowledge of the matter told CNBC.

Dimon and Solomon visited Washington to give Waters their perspectives on a wide range of topics, including where they stand on the economy, and left the door open to a continued dialogue with her, these people said on the condition of anonymity. It was unclear what specific ideas and concerns they expressed to Waters, a California Democrat who has vowed sharp scrutiny of Wall Street and its practices.

The two CEOs met separately with Waters in Washington as the California Democrat was preparing to become chairwoman of the House Financial Services Committee after her party swept back into power during November's midterm elections. Dimon and Waters had their meeting in December, while the lawmaker and Solomon met earlier this month.

A spokesman for Goldman, Jake Siewert, confirmed on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, on Thursday that Solomon had a sit-down with Waters in early January. A spokesman for J.P. Morgan declined to comment.

Later Thursday, in an interview with CNBC's John Harwood, Waters confirmed that she met with Dimon and other bank CEOs. She did not name the other bank executives.

In an earlier statement to CNBC, Waters did not specifically mention Dimon and Solomon, but did not deny that she met with the two CEOs.

"I have an open door policy, in order to hear a wide range of perspectives and concerns regarding the complex issues under the Financial Services Committee's jurisdiction," Waters said. "As such, I frequently meet with advocates for consumers, investors and vulnerable families, representatives of large banks, regional banks, community banks, and credit unions, and other stakeholders. They are all welcome in my office to share their concerns."

The revelation that two of the most powerful banking executives in the world each met with Waters, a staunch critic of the financial industry, comes as it looks like Wall Street and the newly Democratic-led House Financial Services Committee are on a collision course.

Waters officially became chairwoman of the committee this month, adding several left-wing freshman lawmakers to her ranks, including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts. All three lawmakers have been harshly critical of Wall Street and billionaires.

Ocasio-Cortez has proposed a 70 percent marginal income tax rate on income above $10 million. Executives attending the World Economic Forum have said they're scared of the idea and argue that the tax could hurt the economy. She also has questioned the U.S. economy and argued that it benefits the rich.

"I do think a system that allows billionaires to exist when there are parts of Alabama where people are still getting ringworm because they don't have access to public health is wrong," she said at an event in New York on Martin Luther King Day.

In her first policy speech as the committee's leader, Waters took aim at Wall Street, vowing that her panel will be keeping a keen eye on the financial industry and whether the Trump administration is working to weaken regulations.

"The Committee will be paying close attention to whether financial regulators try to weaken these important reforms, and keeping an eye on the big banks and their activities, including by holding many hearings," the California firebrand said in mid-January.

Dimon and Waters have had their public spats.

During a House Financial Services hearing in 2012 on J.P. Morgan's estimated $2 billion trading loss, Waters questioned the bank's lobbying practices.

"Lobbying is a constitutional right and we have the right to have our voice heard," Dimon said in response to Waters' round of questioning.

"Well, I'm not questioning your right to lobby. I'm questioning what's in the best interest of the American public," Waters fired back.

Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif.
Bill Clark | CQ-Roll Call Group | Getty Images