Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, who recently switched her party affiliation from Democrat to independent after facing intraparty criticism for her conservative stances, is yet again the subject of criticism for her political work in service of uber-wealthy finance executives.
Sinema’s relationship with Silicon Valley Bank, in particular, has come into focus after its collapse. (Read my take on SVB’s downfall here.)
The Daily Beast’s Michael Daly framed Sinema’s dilemma succinctly, noting Monday: “Whether she’s calling herself a Democrat or an independent, her voting record is the same. And it marks her a shill for the banking industry.”
Before she went from the U.S. House of Representatives to the U.S. Senate, Sinema was party to an early effort by the banks to undo the provisions of the 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act that was passed in the wake of the 2007-2008 financial crisis. As a member of the House Financial Services Committee, she was a supporter of H.R.992 — The Swaps Regulatory Improvement Act of 2013 — which sought to exempt certain financial instruments from some Dodd-Frank restrictions. Bank lobbyists drafted key amendments, which appeared word for word in the bill she supported in the committee and when it reached the House floor. The measure passed, but this was during the Obama administration and it had no chance of becoming law.
Some Democrats are blaming SVB’s collapse on Sinema and company’s Trump-era rollback of many of the Dodd-Frank regulations.
Politico reported that Sinema is among the members of Congress who received a combined $50,000 from SVB’s political action committee. To that point, check out this Forbes piece on the thousands of dollars she has raked in from finance industry billionaires in recent years.
Not a great look for Kyrsten “Let them eat cake” Sinema, who has been derided for her public displays of disregard for the nonwealthy and disempowered. Surely you remember the time she helped tank a raise in the federal minimum wage, delivering her vote with a thumbs-down and a curtsy.
Rep. Ruben Gallego, an Arizona Democrat who is seeking Sinema’s Senate seat in 2024, is hoping to depict her deference to financial power brokers as part of a disturbing trend.
“It’s not like we received different information,” Gallego told reporters Tuesday, referring to the House’s 2018 vote on bank deregulation. “We got the same pitches as all the members of Congress. But when push came to shove, and the vote came to the floor, I voted to protect Arizona and she voted to protect Wall Street.”
And then Gallego gave Sinema the Taylor Swift treatment on Twitter:
Sinema has yet to declare whether she plans to run for re-election next year as an independent. Bad press like this will be difficult for her to shake off, either way.