The International Swaps & Derivatives Assocation: A $1.9M Lobbying Team

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March 6, 2009 9:11 a.m.
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Josh observed earlier that the International Swaps & Derivatives Association was one of the major lobby groups helping to ensure that derivatives contracts got special repayment privileges from creditors under the 2005 bankruptcy bill. Which got me wondering … the ISDA must be shaking in its loafers over the possibility of stronger regulation passing Congress this year. Which D.C. lobbyists are in their corner?

Here’s what I found: a healthy $1.9 million in lobbying spending for 2008, more than twice as much as embattled bank UBS and comparable to the lobby bills of Credit Suisse, one bank heavily tied to derivatives trading and other complex financial instruments.

The lobbyist lineup for ISDA looks like a staff alumni list for top GOPers (and a few Dems):Greg Zerzan, Robert Pickel: The ISDA’s two in-house lobbyists reaped the bulk of the group’s lobbying spending, at $1.5 million. Zerzan is a former senior Treasury Department official under George W. Bush, as well as an ex-counsel to two House committees with a key role in the derivatives debate. Pickel was a former counsel to the Amerada Hess oil company before joining the ISDA.

Brant Imperatore, BGR Group: A former counsel to ex-House Financial Services Committee Chairman Mike Oxley (R-OH). BGR was co-founded by now-Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour (R), an ex-RNC chairman and former Bush fundraiser Lanny Griffith.

Don Moorehead, Kirsten Wegner: Both lobby for Patton Boggs, where Moorehead is a 25-year veteran and Wegner is a recent arrival who specializes in giving clients “strategic advice” on the government’s financial bailout.

J. Patrick Cave, Ben DuPuy, Alexander Sternhell: All three hail from the Cypress Group, which was founded in 2005 with the counter-intuitive mission of lobbying and affordable housing (the firm’s realty arm won a contract to rebuild New Orleans homes after Hurricane Katrina). Cave is a former aide to ex-Rep. Richard Baker (R-LA), a senior House Financial Services member, while Sternhell is a former Democratic aide on the Senate Banking Committee. DuPuy is a former aide to Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) and an ex-lobbying for the National Rifle Association.

Alan Sobba, Sobba Public: Until 2007, he served as external affairs director for the Commodity Futures Trading Commission — the body charged with regulating (or not regulating, as the case may be) derivatives trading. His duties included supervising the agency’s contacts with Congress.

Edward Rosen, Cleary Gottlieb: Has advised the biggest Wall Street trade associations in Washington, including the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association, the Securities Industry Association, and The Bond Market Association.

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