Brown’s gold

sherrod brown caricature
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“You can bank on it.” Once that meant reliable, trustworthy. After the financial crisis and near collapse of 2008, who knows? There are efforts afoot in Congress to restore oversight to a criminally risky financial sector, though whether they have the Obama Administration’s blessing remains questionable. One of the foremost proponents of re-regulation is Senator Sherrod Brown. As Bloomberg‘s Craig Torres and Cheyenne Hopkins recently reported:

“‘[T]oo big to fail’ banks are also too big to manage and too big to regulate,” Brown, an Ohio Democrat, said in a Jan. 22 e-mail. “The question is no longer about whether these megabanks should be restructured, but how we should do it.”

Brown and fellow Banking Committee member David Vitter, a Louisiana Republican, are considering legislation that would impose capital levels on the largest banks higher than those agreed to by the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision and the Financial Stability Board, which set global standards. Brown also plans to reintroduce a bill he failed to get included in Dodd-Frank or passed in the last Congress that would cap bank size and limit non-deposit liabilities.

Given his seats on the Banking and the Finance Committees, it’s worthwhile to look at who Brown’s most prominent contributors are. Interestingly, none of the investment banks who feature prominently on many other Senators’ lists make his top twenty (though he has received $2.7 million from the combined areas of finance, insurance and real estate.)

Several of Brown’s biggest donors come from his home state of Ohio. Cleveland-based real estate developers Forest City Enterprises topped Brown’s list, contributing nearly an eighth of a million dollars since 1992; and both Ohio State University (fifth) in Columbus and Akron electric utility FirstEnergy (20th) made significant contributions to Brown’s campaigns.

Brown also rakes in a lot of donations from Ohio lawyers; the legal industry gives more to the Senator — over three million bucks so far — than any other group. Along with trial lawyers’ lobbying organization the American Association for Justice (fourth), Brown received significant donations from Sandusky, Ohio, personal injury lawyers Murray & Murray (seventh); Cleveland business law firms Kohrman Jackson & Krantz (ninth) and Squire Sanders (12th); and Columbus lobbyists Vorys, Sater, Seymour and Pease (17th).

Nationally, labor unions work hard to fill Brown’s campaign war chest. The Senator has rung up nearly an eighth of a million from his second largest donor, the Communication Workers of America, which represents telephone company employees. He’s also received copious contributions from the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (sixth); the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (eighth); public employees’ union AFSCME (tenth); and the United Auto Workers (13th).

Health professionals provided more money to Brown than any industry save lawyers. He’s received a helping hand from manufacturers of wheelchairs and walkers Invacare (third); the American Academy of Ophthalmology (14th); world-famous hospital the Cleveland Clinic (15th); professional organization the American Hospital Association (16th); and the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery (18th).

Completing Brown’s top twenty list are accounting heavyweights Deloitte (11th) and arms control advocates the Council for a Livable World (19th).

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Caricature of Sherrod Brown by DonkeyHotey.