Follow The Money

Bank Of America Exec Overheard Telling Rick Perry: 'We'll Help You Out.'

Kudos to the Zero Hedge finance blog for reporting on a moment captured by C-SPAN, a Bank of America executive walking up to Texas Gov. Rick Perry after a New Hampshire event and saying loudly enough to be picked up on mic, "Bank of America. We will help you out."

Whoa, Nellie. What's that all about?

Well, various folks on the blogosphere have been trying to find out. The Wall Street Journal's Market Beat blog reports that the guy with the Boston accent is James Mahoney, who is director of public policy for the banking giant. And in a fascinating twist, he has a Democratic pedigree, just like Perry.

The WSJ reports the following:

Mr. Mahoney is on the board of the New England Council, sponsor of the event at which Mr. Perry spoke. He is a former secretary of the Boston Fed and was a district director for former Democratic Congressman Joseph Kennedy. He also volunteered for Democratic California Governor Jerry Brown's 1980 presidential campaign and assisted the Brown administration in California...

B of A spokesman, Lawrence Di Rita, who incidentally was an aide to Bush Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, issued a statement.

"Bank of America does not endorse Presidential candidates. The reference was about following up on the substance of his speech about job creation and economic growth. Discussing policy issues that affect our company and our customers is something we do with policymakers of both parties routinely at the local, state, and Federal levels."

There's some skepticism about Di Rita's explanation, needless to say. James Fallows over at The Atlantic writes:

Yes, that is entirely convincing! I am sure everyone who gets a look at this scene, including Governor Perry, will instantly understand that when a senior bank official... whispers "We'll help you out" into the ear of a rising politician, that's a simpler way of saying "I am interested in following up on the substance of your speech." Who could think anything else?

And Ben Smith at Politico found that Mahoney is actually the chairman of a political action committee registered in New Hampshire.

As Smith writes:

While Mahoney doesn't appear to be a registered lobbyist, he is chairman of Bank of American's New Hampshire PAC — an influence post focused on dispensing political cash, not a policy post.

This is why I love C-SPAN. When you keep the cameras rolling after the event like they do, there's always the possibility of catching something really fun.

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