The California congresswoman, who is expected to become the top Democrat on the House Financial Services Committee next year, is in outreach mode with the big boys - an interesting about-face from her less-than-flattering comments about the role of major banks in the financial crisis, reports Politico. That includes striking up a fast friendship with Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf. Waters might be feeling somewhat vindicated after the House Ethics Committee ended an investigation into whether she improperly tried to help a bank with ties to her husband.
From organizing industry roundtables to one-on-one meetings with Wells Fargo's CEO to holding fundraisers targeting banking donors, Waters is opening the door to big banks and Wall Street. In some cases, it's the first time that individual banks and association lobbyists have met with the senior lawmaker who has spent many years on the committee. Industry officials say the increasingly aggressive outreach effort coming from Waters and her staff has been on the uptick for at least a year -- ever since Rep. Barney Frank, the current highest ranking Democrat on the Financial Services Committee, announced in November his plan to retire at the end of 2012.
Paul Brathwaite of Podesta Group said cozying up to the industry is normal for lawmakers when they ascend into a leadership slot. And as much as Waters is looking to create a relationship with the banking and financial services lobbyists, downtown will also benefit from it. "Some institutions and trade associations haven't necessarily played their cards right," Brathwaite said, pointing to her high-profile role in authoring language in Dodd-Frank that requires a diversity office. "Not engaging with her and her staff is putting your company way behind the eight ball."