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

Last modified: 5/23/2013 11:16:16 AM
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.)


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