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Banks look to impact 2012 votes

By David McMillin · Bankrate.com
Saturday, September 15, 2012
Posted: 6 am ET

Next time you see a political advertisement, you may be able to thank the banking industry.

In a story first reported by Robert Schmidt and Phil Mattingly at Bloomberg, the American Bankers Association has a plan in the works to enable member banks in the association to anonymously contribute money to political candidates. This is a move by the banking industry to throw support for or against certain Senate candidates in the November election via the controversial front of super PACs, or political action committees.

Money makes a big difference in elections, and this move will look to capitalize on the ability to spend massive amounts of money on campaign-related advertising. While there is no limit to the amount of money that a super PAC can spend, there is a minimum amount of money to donate to this new banking industry pool of money: $10,000 for big banks, $5,000 for medium-sized banks and $1,000 for small institutions.

It's no secret that banks have been at odds with some of the nation's lawmakers over the past few years. From frustrations with the Dodd-Frank Act to the ambiguity of the proposed Volcker Rule, financial institutions are concerned with regulations that are taking a tool on their profit margins and forcing them to adjust their business models. As financial reform continues to create hurdles for the banking industry, we can expect that groups like the ABA will dedicate plenty of dollars toward lobbying efforts in Washington, D.C.

In the immediate future, these contributions from banks could have serious implications for the upcoming election. According to the Bloomberg coverage, ABA's Chief Operating Officer Michael Hunter says that the fund could total an estimated $6 million if all the association's members contributed the minimum amount. While all of the members are not expected to give money, some institutions may give more money than the minimum. If these advertising dollars are effective, we may see more pro-banking industry lawmakers take office.

What do you think? Will banks be looking to influence any of the candidates in your state?

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