Other leading recipients of campaign donations from commercial banks include: Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D., Ark.), who sits on the agriculture committee and played a key role in forging derivatives legislation; Sen. Charles Schumer (D., N.Y.), who was once the poster boy legislator for Wall Street but fell silent during much of the finreg negotiations; Sen. David Vitter (R., La.), Rep. John Boehner (R., Ohio) and Jeb Hensarling (R., Texas), all conservative Republicans who have been outspoken critics of Wall Street bailouts, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac; as well as Rep. Melissa Bean, (D. Ill.), who played a key role in easing the derivatives legislation and Rep. Mike Castle, (R. Del.), a senior member of the House Financial Services Committee.
Garuccio said it has been more difficult this season for the industry to come up with a specific legislative agenda to promote, without a clear view of how the election battles will shake out. Although the ABA has given the majority of its donations — $1.3 million, or 61% — to Republicans, Garuccio says its members don't adhere to a particular political stripe.
"We always have and always will give to members of both sides of the aisle that are willing to work with us," he says.
For smaller, community bankers, ICBA's Verdier says the financial reform bill has made some issues "artificially partisan." He encourages executives to engage their hometown legislators on issues that affect their particular banks — from SEC registration to tax issues and estate planning — regardless of political preference.
"As bankers, they really have a responsibility to the bank to be involved, regardless of whether the congressman is a Republican or a Democrat," says Verdier. "What they do in the privacy of the voting booth is their own business."
One might think those operating at the cortex of capitalism always skew Republican, but that hasn't always been the case.
One prominent example of a blue dog among the elephants has been Jamie Dimon, the CEO of JPMorgan Chase. He and his wife, Judith, have donated hundreds of thousands of personal dollars to Democrats and their causes over the years — including the maximum $50,000 donation to President Barack Obama's inaugural fund. Dimon was whispered to be a contender for Treasury Secretary if Tim Geithner stepped down as recently as last fall.
Yet, the tides appear to have turned.
Dimon was snubbed harshly by the administration after opposing certain provisions in the financial reform bill. Only two top banking executives weren't invited to the White House for the Dodd-Frank bill's signing ceremony in July: Dimon and Goldman Sachs (GS) CEO Lloyd Blankfein. According to Federal Election Commission filings, Dimon hasn't pledged any campaign funds so far this season.
Disclosure information was not available for LaCapra or her company.