WASHINGTON, July 22 (UPI) -- Bank of America Corp., which accepted $45 billion in taxpayer bailout money, has spent $1.5 million on lobbying so far this year, U.S. Senate records indicate.
The Charlotte, N.C., bank -- one of the nation's largest -- has sought to sway senators and members of Congress on more than two dozen pieces of legislation, records indicate.
BoA has lobbied for flexibility in spending government rescue funds and against restrictions on executive compensation. It also has lobbied on home mortgage issues and credit card fees, as well as a consumer-rights bill, student lending issues and a proposed federal regulatory oversight agency, the records obtained by The Charlotte Observer suggest.
The documents don't say what positions the bank took. Bank spokeswoman Shirley Norton would not comment to the newspaper other than saying it was interested in tax reform and regulatory issues.
Critics argue that until banks repay taxpayer bailout money, they should steer clear of lobbying.
"As long as they hold on to a very substantial portion of public funds, and are publicly owned essentially, they should not be using any of their funds for lobbying purposes or campaign contributions," Craig Holman, government affairs lobbyist for the non-profit advocacy group Public Citizen, told the newspaper. "And you'll find Bank of America is doing both."
Bank of America's lobbying tab was $2.3 million in the first half of 2008, the Senate records state.
"We're cutting expenses across the company, including lobbying expenses," Norton said.