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Ex-N.H. senator Judd Gregg takes new job as CEO of powerful Wall Street lobbying firm

FILE - In this Feb. 2, 2010 file photo, Sen. Judd Gregg, R-N.H., then-ranking Republican on the Senate Budget Committee. meets with reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington. Fresh off big election day victories, Republicans in Congress are feeling empowered in their fight to extend tax cuts that expire in January, including those for the wealthy. "It should be permanent," said outgoing Sen. Gregg. "We've got to get this economy to pick up and if you raise taxes you're going to stifle the economy significantly. I'm sure that somebody's explained that to the president."  (AP Photo/Cliff Owen, File)

FILE - In this Feb. 2, 2010 file photo, Sen. Judd Gregg, R-N.H., then-ranking Republican on the Senate Budget Committee. meets with reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington. Fresh off big election day victories, Republicans in Congress are feeling empowered in their fight to extend tax cuts that expire in January, including those for the wealthy. "It should be permanent," said outgoing Sen. Gregg. "We've got to get this economy to pick up and if you raise taxes you're going to stifle the economy significantly. I'm sure that somebody's explained that to the president." (AP Photo/Cliff Owen, File)

Judd Gregg, the former New Hampshire governor and U.S. senator who helped craft the federal government’s 2008 bailout of Wall Street, has a new job: head of a powerful Wall Street lobbying group.

The Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association yesterday announced Gregg, 66, would become its chief executive officer, effective immediately. His new salary wasn’t disclosed but his predecessor, Tim Ryan, was paid $3 million in the fiscal year that ended Oct. 31, 2011, according to SIFMA’s most recent filing with the Internal Revenue Service.

“America’s success and prosperity depends on a vibrant financial system providing access to capital and credit that helps people on Main Streets across America build on their dreams of opening a small business, saving to be able to send their children to college, buying their first home or saving for retirement,” Gregg said in a statement.

Ryan was the trade group’s president and CEO until February. Gregg will split Ryan’s job with former Texas congressman Ken Bentsen Jr., who will serve as SIFMA’s president. Gregg is a Republican, Bentsen is a Democrat.

SIFMA represents hundreds of banks, asset managers and securities firms. According to Bloomberg, it’s Wall Street’s largest lobbying group.

“It’s a huge and very important trade group for a lot of very wealthy firms, very profitable firms,” said Viveca Novak, editorial and communications director for the Center for Responsive Politics, which tracks campaign finance and lobbying.

According to the center, SIFMA spent $5.58 million lobbying for Wall Street last year, which Novak said placed it 84th among the 4,370 groups tracked by the center.

Gregg, the son of former governor Hugh Gregg, was a member of the Executive Council and served in the U.S. House before being elected to the first of two terms as governor in 1988. He won a seat in the U.S. Senate in 1992, serving three terms until he decided against running again in 2010.

In 2009, he was briefly President Obama’s nominee for commerce secretary before withdrawing over policy differences with the Democrat.

The previous year, during the height of the U.S. financial crisis, Gregg helped pass the Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP, a government program designed to spend up to $700 billion to stabilize major financial firms reeling from the aftershocks of the subprime mortgage market’s collapse.

Gregg has defended TARP as helping save the banking system and U.S. economy from an imminent meltdown. But the bailout of Wall Street firms left a bad taste in the mouths of many Americans.

Chet Helck, a top executive at financial services firm Raymond James and SIFMA’s chairman, said Gregg’s political expertise can help the industry improve its public image.

“Judd’s experience as both a governor and legislator will be of tremendous value to SIFMA in bridging the gap between the complexities of the financial markets and the positive impact our markets have on every community across America,” Helck said in a release.

Gregg left office at the beginning of 2011 and has been working as an adviser to Goldman Sachs. Federal law prohibits ex-senators from lobbying their former colleagues for two years.

“He’s past the cooling-off period,” Novak said.

(Ben Leubsdorf can be reached at 369-3307 or
bleubsdorf@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @BenLeubsdorf.)

At the same time Gregg was pumping federal tax payer dollars into Pease Air Force Base for reconstruction, he and his brother were buying up land right in the middle of the area. No conflict of interest, abuse of ones position in government or insider trading there!!! And the beat goes on with Gregg and his brother smiling all the way to the bank.

Here is a newsflash Jim. All pols are corrupt. Just a matter of degrees of corruption. Kind of like families, we are all dysfunctional, just some families are more dysfunctional than others. History has shown us that many pols have benefited from insider trading. Some more than others. I think if you comprised a list of pols who benefited from insider trading, that list would include folks from both sides of the aisle. But, evidetly in you eyes only Reps are corrupt.

Correction: most pols are corrupt. There are some exceptions. But that's not my point. Judd Gregg always cultivated a cleaner than thou image while in office (compared to most of his colleagues, not a particularly hard task). Now that he doesn't have to come back to the voters for approval he feels free to sign on with the biggest grift of them all.

I made no reference to his (former) political party and I routinely state I trust very little what any politicians say. I think every politician should have to put their money in a "blind trust" while in office so they can't invest though insider information. Maggie Hassan (D) has no right to stand on the podium and claim she is against an income tax and will veto any bill when she is the governor of a state and pays ZERO taxes to the state to live here. Investigate the IRS and let the chips fall where they may. I assure you when I make a single sided political statement it will be identified by the party, otherwise it is directed toward the individual.

Replay 2007-2008. Big corrupt financial firms playing fast and loose with people's money bring our once-great republic to the brink of financial ruin. In step the republikrat and demopublikan puppets of these same scoundrels to bail them out on the backs of the peasants, their children, and their yet-to-be-born grandchildren. (Oh, BTW, not a single person was ever prosecuted for the meltdown by our fearless leaders). Wait a few years, and one of the lead henchmen gets rewarded with a job to promote his puppet-masters to his former co-conspirators. What a deal.

Keep moving, folks. Nothing to see here. It's the same old story but this time with a local twist. Long-time legislator, whose career was to cater to corporate over individual interests, retires from Congress to become a high-power lobbyist. It's unfortunately nothing new for pols of both parties: do favors for big business in exchange for campaign contributions (legalized bribery) while in office then join them for the big payoff once out of office. Keep moving, folks. Nothing to see here.

so true, politicians - the gift that keeps giving, make that taking.

Yeah, I agree gracchus. I think term limits would do a lot to keep politicians and special interests/lobbyists from getting so chummy with each other. These days it's almost a given that retired politicians slide into a lucrative private-sector lobbying job. Really, I have to ask why would an honest, self-respecting man or woman even want to run for Congress? Look at the crap they have to put up with. Is a post-political career the objective the whole time?

Term limits only compresses the process. If you want to stop the corruption how about 1) a lifetime ban on elected officials and many other government officials becoming lobbyists, 2) strictly enforced campaign contribution limits including NONE allowed from non biological persons (I would favor totally publicly financed elections), 3) an outright ban on all gifts / honoraria (including vacations and other travel) to all public employees. The one exception to #3 would of course be the envelopes handed to the "right" police officers in order to insure the orderly conduct of "certain" businesses.

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