The fallout from the HSBC money laundering scandal continues to reverberate around the globe, but U.S. Congress members apparently are in no hurry to return millions of dollars they have received from the scandal-plagued bank's political action committee.
U.S. Trade & Aid Monitor conducted an analysis of Federal Election Commission records specific to the company PAC's generosity toward Congress. The investigation centered upon two congressional panels with primary oversight of the industry: The Senate Committee on Banking, Housing & Urban Affairs, and the House Committee on Financial Services.
Since 1997, the earliest available FEC electronic records, HSBC bestowed its greatest beneficence upon the House panel’s leadership.
The bank’s direct contributions to individual leaders amounted to hundreds of thousands; however, HSBC’s financial support of the American Bankers Association PAC, or BANKPAC – plus many dozens of other financial, insurance, and law firm PACs for which HSBC provides funding – in turn donated millions of dollars to a handful of key members.
The Monitor offered two basic questions for committee leadership to answer:
- In light of the U.S. Senate’s allegations that HSBC laundered billions, for example, from murderous Mexican drug cartels and rogue nations such as Iran, do you intend to return any of the funds received from HSBC?
- Will you accept or reject future offers from the HSBC North America PAC?
In the few instances where leaders obtained zero or minimal HSBC funds, WND inquired whether the member had rejected or simply never had been offered donations.
The spokesperson of only one congressional leader – who declined to be identified – returned an e-mail to the Monitor. In that instance, the congressman, who received a small amount from HSBC several years ago, said he would rather not comment on the situation.
As of this deadline, the Monitor’s questions otherwise continue to be met with a wall of silence.
HSBC’s biggest financial beneficiary on the committees is Chairman Spencer Bachus, R-Ala., who since 1997 raked in $45,500 directly from the HSBC PAC. It most recently cut a $1,000 check for the Bachus for Congress Committee in November.
HSBC in May likewise donated $2,500 to the Financial Services Roundtable, a PAC that has given Bachus $33,499 from 1997 onward, including a $5,000 check in February.
Subcommittee Vice Chairman Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, has reaped $34,500 from HSBC since 2002, last receiving $1,000 in September 2011. BANKPAC, however, donated $52,000 to his campaign in that same period.
Ranking Minority Member Barney Frank, D-Mass., directly received $21,000 since 2002 from HSBC, which in turn gave $42,500 to BANKPAC – which in turn donated a total of $48,250 back to Frank.
The following is a run-down solely of direct HSBC PAC donations to the respective House Committee on Financial Services subcommittee leaders:
Insurance, Housing and Community Opportunity Subcommittee
- Chairman Judy Biggert, R-Ill.: $39,499 since 1998
- Vice Chairman Robert Hurt, R-Va.: Single $1,000 payment on May 18, 2011
- Ranking Minority Member Luis V. Gutierrez, D-Ill.: $3,500 since 1998
Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit Subcommittee
- Chairman Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va.: $10,000 from 2000-2004
- Vice Chairman James B. Renacci, R-Ohio: $0
- Ranking Minority Member Carolyn B. Maloney, D-N.Y.: $12,000 since 1997
Domestic Monetary Policy and Technology Subcommittee
- Chairman Ron Paul, R-Texas: Single $500 payment in 1998
- Vice Chairman Walter B. Jones, R-N.C.: $11,400 since 1999
- Ranking Minority Member Wm. Lacy Clay, D-Mo.: $10,500 since 1999
Capital Markets and Government Sponsored Enterprises Subcommittee
- Chairman Scott Garrett, R-N.J.: $24,500 since 2002
- Vice Chairman David Schweikert, R-Ariz.: $0
- Ranking Minority Member Maxine Waters, D-Calif.: $0
U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs leaders received significantly less than their House counterparts from HSBC. Chairman Tim Johnson, D-S.D., got $20,000 from the PAC since 1997.
While HSBC only gave $13,029 to Ranking Minority Member Richard Shelby since 1998, Shelby – who also serves as a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee – separately received millions during that period from a multitude of PACs in every imaginable industry sector.
The following is a run-down solely of direct HSBC PAC donations to the respective Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs subcommittee leaders:
Economic Policy Subcommittee
- Chairman Jon Tester, D-Mont.: $1,000 in 2009
- Ranking Minority Member David Vitter, R-La.: $3,000 since 2009
Housing, Transportation, and Community Development Subcommittee
- Chairman Robert Menendez, D-N.J.: $9,000 since 2006
- Ranking Minority Member Jim DeMint, R-S.C.: $1,000 in 2008
Financial Institutions and Consumer Protection Subcommittee
- Chairman Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio: $0
- Ranking Minority Member Bob Corker, R-Tenn.: $4,000 in 2008
Security and International Trade and Finance Subcommittee
- Chairman Mark R. Warner, D-Va.: $8,500 since 1999
- Ranking Minority Member Mike Johanns, R-Neb.: $0
Securities, Insurance, and Investment Subcommittee
- Chairman Jack Reed, D-R.I.: $3,000 since 2010
- Mike Crapo, R-Idaho: $16,000 since 2003
A spokesperson for the Center for Responsive Politics expressed concern about such linkages between industries such as the banking sector and members of Congress with jurisdiction over them.
Viveca Novak, CRP editorial and communications director, cautioned, however, against making a direct connection between contributions received and the perception of congressional favors granted.
“It creates at least the appearance of a conflict of interest when lawmakers running for re-election rely on contributions from the very companies they are supposed to be overseeing,” she said.
“Is this why Congress has such difficulty passing legislation that addresses some of the questionable practices of banks and others? There’s not a straight line between cause and effect, but there are grounds for raising questions about a link.”
Alluding to the Monitor’s questioning of House and Senate committee members about what their plans are for the campaign contributions, Novak said CRP is not taking a position “on what should be done with the donations already given.”
A similar version of this article first was published via WND.com on July 29.