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May 7, 2014

When it comes to bank lobbying, size matters

“Russell Goldsmith, the CEO of City National Bank in Los Angeles, remembers the moment when the Mid-Size Bank Coalition of America was born.

“It was 2009 and lawmakers were deep in the weeds of a massive financial regulatory overhaul bill that aimed to prevent the kinds of misdeeds that led to the financial crisis and government bailouts. Members of the House Financial Services Committee wanted to create a fund that would cover expenses related to future failures and be paid for by banks with more than $10 billion in assets, but that would mostly benefit the biggest financial institutions.

“’That was the spark that motivated some of us,’ said Goldsmith, whose bank has $29 billion in assets. ‘It’s like, ‘Wait a minute, we’re going to pay for insurance on the Citigroup headquarters building, but if our headquarters building burns down, we don’t get any insurance?’’

“Goldsmith joined up with a handful of other CEOs — including James Smith at Webster Bank in Waterbury, Connecticut, David Kemper at Commerce Bank in Kansas City, Missouri, and Bryan Jordan at First Horizon National Corp. in Memphis, Tennessee — and convinced lawmakers to move the line from $10 billion to $50 billion. The provision was eventually removed during final negotiations on what became the 2010 Dodd-Frank law.”

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