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Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) questions U.S. Federal Reserve Vice Chair Janet Yellen (not pictured) during a Senate Banking Committee confirmation hearing on Yellen's nomination to be the next chairman of the Federal Reserve, on Capitol Hill in Washingt
Sen. Elizabeth Warren apparently doesn't give a fig about what the centrist corporatist Third Way thinks about her and her economic populism. But she does care about who is funding the research from think tanks like Third Way that argues against economic populism. So she is demanding some transparency there. She just sent this letter [pdf] to the heads of JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Citigroup, Wells Fargo, Goldman Sachs, and Morgan Stanley.
As you know, your institutions are free to express your views to lawmakers and regulators thorugh your lobbying efforts and those of the trade associations that represent you. But the law requires that there be transparency around you direct efforts to influence policymaking through lobbying, with disclosures about your lobbying expenditures. Under current law, however, your institutions are permitted to make financial contributions to think tanks without any similar public disclosure. This means that you can make enormous contributions that threaten both the independence and public credibility of the work of think tanks out of the public view. [...]

As the CEOs of public companies, you have an obligation to expend corporate resources only in ways that advance the interests of your shareholders. For that reason, I believe your shareholders have the right to know both which think tanks your companies are supporting and the extent of that support so that they can assess for themselves whether they benefit from these contributions.

When you use corporate resources to support think tanks, there are only two possible outcomes from public disclosure—those contributions do not influence the work of the think tanks or those contributions do influence the think tanks' research and conclusions. Either way, shareholders have a right to know how corporate resources are spent, and even more importantly, policymakers and the public should be aware of your contributions and evaluate the work of think tanks accordingly.

Game on, Wall Street CEOs and Third Way board members. Next time, they might want to be more careful about who they choose to take on.

4:08 PM PT: Third Way responds

"Our response is that we agree that all public companies should disclose who they give money to —not sure why she's singling out these six but everybody should disclose in the interest of fairness to these shareholders. So we agree with her," Third Way spokesman Matt Bennett told TPM on Wednesday. [...]

"But we're not sure how that's related to the argument that we were making in the op-ed about entitlement reform and populism," Bennett continued.

Right. No connection there at all between Wall Street lobbying and entitlement reform.

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Originally posted to Joan McCarter on Wed Dec 04, 2013 at 01:13 PM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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