All In   |  April 30, 2013

Top GOP congressman takes Wall Streeters on ski vacation

The Political Action Committee for Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Tx., chairman of the powerful House Financial Services Committee, paid for a luxury ski resort vacation for Wall Street lobbyists. Chris Hayes discusses the cozy bedfellows with journalist Gary Rivlin.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

vo: looking to reign in the bank's label "too big too fail." . take a politician who was willing to criticize the financial industry . he voted against the 2008 bank bailout, railed against the too big too fail maximum and then a funny thing happened. he is now the chairman of the house services financial committee and here's the result when he mitigated to the center of financial power. he now opposes the idea of downsizing banks. how does somebody like jeb get to that place? an examination of his campaign finance filings show just six weeks after become financial services chair, he was joined by representatives of the banking industry for a ski vacation fund-raiser at a posh park city , utah resort. more than a hundred people enjoyed the weekend, paid for by his political action committee . a lobbyist from the mortgage bankers association donated $5,000 to hensarling and february. also present, a representative from visa, a $5,000 donor. he received more than $1.3 million from big finance in 2012 . this is the way business is done. a routine manifestation of political coziness. joining me right now, gary rivlin author of the cover story in "nation." we've reached out to the congressman and did not get a response. gary , i want to read a quote from your piece. there are so many different ways after dodd -frank, the wall street financial bill that was passed and signed by the president, that the banks have made runs at trying to limit, curtail and kneecap the reform. the first place that start is in the house financial services committee itself, which became controlled by the republicans after the 2010 election. he writes " wall street 's primary beachahead for fighting dodd -frank has been the house committee on financial services . hensarling wasn't the chairman initially but it looks like he will continue in that mode.

>> you've got the committee to introduce bills able to undo parts of dodd -frank. you've got congress and, like, okay, congress passed this bill, we don't like it in 2010 , let's see if we can get some bills, just technical correction, we just want to fix some this evenings -- things.

>> are those fights working their way out into legislation that has a chance of stopping? or has the committee played the kind of role of a kind of theatrical source to get people to come in and rail against dodd -frank and how it's hurting people?

>> there are some who call the routine you're talking about just, you know, a fund-raiser bill. we're going to put a bill that's going to make a bank happy. it's not going to get anywhere but we'll put it out there. it's almost three years since dodd -frank. it's almost five years since the meltdown. so there's a real worry among consumer advocates that with so much time passed that maybe they'll pick off some democrats. who's kidding who? the democrats are getting the $5,000, $10,000, $20,000 from goldman sachs .

>> big checks from the finance services industry are not at all limited.

>> so some of these bills won't get anywhere but there are bills that have democratic co-sponsors and there is some concern among advocates, lobbyists for the other side. i think what the hensarling story underscores for me is the inequity here. i added up the lobbyists with the top five consumer advocate groups in d.c. and it has 18. goldman sachs alone has more than 50 lobbyist, j.p. chase alone has over 60 lobbyists. we're talking about unequal warfare here.

>> i think what's so interesting about the article and i would tell people to definitely check it out. we talk about campaign finance as part of the problem. but the inequity is so massive that sense that you get in the lobbying on congress then carries over to things that happen in the regulatory facet and in the courts as well.

>> i wanted to find the one regulatory agency where someone was really trying. so the cftc, they're right at the center of this, they're derivatives control. what's he able to do? he said i want to have an open door . anybody who wants to come in and talk about derivative reform can come and see me. and what happens?

>> you know who --

>> they have a staff of 12 from new york who can fly down and u.s. perg has two meetings over a three-year period.

>> gary rivlin, great piece. thank you very much.

>> up next, a truly insane build introduced in congress that the "all in" staff seriously did not believe was real. no, really, we were convinced it was from the onion.