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Former Washington insiders lobby for Wall Street

By Annalyn Censky, staff reporter

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Since financial reform debates started heating up on Capitol Hill in 2009, financial companies have hired nearly 1,500 former federal employees as lobbyists, a congressional watchdog group said Thursday.

At least 73 are former members of Congress and 42 worked in some capacity at the Treasury Department, according to a report by political research groups Public Citizen and the Center for Responsive Politics. They now represent big banks, investment firms, insurance and real estate companies.

"Wall Street hires former members of Congress and their staff for a reason," David Arkush, director of Public Citizen's Congress Watch division, said in a statement. "These people are influential because they have personal relationships with current members and staff."

According to the report, Citigroup (C, Fortune 500) has hired 60 former federal employees as lobbyists, the most of any financial firm. Visa, the American Bankers Association, Prudential Financial and Goldman Sachs (GS, Fortune 500) each have added around 50 former federal employees to their lobbying ranks.

Some of the most prominent ex-officials include Dick Gephardt, the former Democratic House majority leader who has lobbied for Goldman Sachs and Visa, and former Republican Senate majority leader Bob Dole, who has represented a London-based conglomerate that includes Experian credit services.

With 13 financial services clients, former Rep. Vin Weber, R-Minn., boasts the most among former members of Congress. Now a prominent Republican strategist, Weber served on the small business, public works, transportation, budget and appropriations committees during his years in the House from 1981 to 1993.

Calls to Gephardt, Dole and Weber's offices were not immediately returned.

The Senate's 1,600-page financial reform bill passed last month aims to stop bailouts, strengthen consumer protection and shine some light on complex financial products called derivatives. Next week, a special committee of Senate and House members will begin hashing out a final bill that's expected to pass by the end of the month.

Since January, financial services firms have spent nearly $600 million and hired hundreds of lobbyists to influence the Wall Street reform debate, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

In May, Public Citizen released a separate report showing lobbyists opposing strong derivatives reform outnumbered pro-reform lobbyists by more than 11-to-1. To top of page

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