Rep. Walters has collected more than $1.4 million from PACs and individuals associated with financial and real estate companies, more than from any other sector of the economy. Her top career donors include Capital Group Companies ($53,107), Western National Group ($42,400), TCW Group ($37,100), Security First ($30,350), the American Bankers Association ($25,000), and PricewaterhouseCoopers ($25,000). In the current 2017-18 election cycle, she has received contributions of $10,000 or more from Capital Group Companies ($39,307), PricewaterhouseCoopers ($20,000), First American Financial ($18,060), Carlyle Group ($15,400), Horowitz Group ($15,400), Blackstone Group ($14,800), Goldman Sachs ($13,200), Dartbrook Partners ($11,800), Western National Group ($10,800), Bluff Point Associates ($13,200), Pisces Inc. ($10,800), Seaview Investors LLC ($10,800), and others.
In 2017 and 2018, Americans for Financial Reform, a coalition of more than 200 consumer, civil rights, labor, investor, community and faith-based organizations, tracked 38 House floor votes on measures that would help banks and financial companies take unfair advantage of consumers, homeowners, taxpayers or investors, or threaten the safety and stability of the overall financial system and economy. Mimi Walters voted for all 38. They included proposals to:
- Make it easier for mortgage lenders, payday lenders, and credit card companies to stick people with hidden fees and unexpected charges by sharply reducing the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s funding and powers. (HR 10, voted for)
- Undo the Labor Department’s fiduciary rule that required retirement investment advisors to act in the best interests of their clients, cracking down on conflicts of interest that cost American workers and retirees an estimated $17 billion a year. (HR 10, voted for)
- Repeal the “Volcker Rule,” which bars the big Wall Street banks from playing reckless games with insured deposits and other taxpayer-subsidized funds. (HR 10, voted for)
- Let big banks boost profits by reducing the capital reserves they have to set aside as a safeguard against losses. (HR 4296, voted for)
- Roll back consumer credit safeguards for mobile (or manufactured) homes, making it easier to steer borrowers into high-cost loans with excessive fees and interest – in an industry that has long been ride with such abuses. (HR 1699, voted for)
- Weaken oversight of the Big 3 credit ratings agencies, Moody’s, Standard & Poors, and Fitch, which made huge sums of money by slapping triple-A ratings on toxic mortgage-backed securities in the run-up to the financial crisis. (HR 3911, voted for)
- Give Wall Street banks and other large financial companies a new way to undo rules they dislike, by requiring the explicit approval of both houses of Congress before any major regulation takes effect. (HR 26, voted for)
- Strip consumers of the right to band together and take banks and other financial companies to court over systematic wrongdoing, leaving people with no recourse except to submit an individual complaint to a corporate-friendly private arbitration firm. This is a system that effectively operates as a corporate Get out of Jail Free Card, since the damage to any one victim of financial industry fraud and trickery is rarely large enough to justify the cost of legal action, and arbitration proceedings are usually kept under wraps. (HJ Resolution 111, voted for)
Rep. Walter also supported the Republican tax-cut plan, from which big banks, financial companies and their executives stand to gain hundreds of billions of dollars, with the scandal-ridden Wells Fargo poised to be the leading corporate beneficiary. And in May 2018, she voted for S. 2155, the biggest rollback of banking regulations since the financial crisis. Backers of this legislation (S 2155) described it as an effort to provide regulatory relief for small “community banks” – a well-honed Wall Street marketing pitch for bills whose chief beneficiaries, as a rule, are much larger and less sympathetic institutions. The core provision of S 2155 freed a group of 25 banks with assets in the $50-$250 billion range from the heightened oversight regime established after the 2008-09 financial crisis. Far from protecting community banks, this bill will spur increased bank consolidation by letting a $50 billion institution grow up to five times bigger without attracting any extra regulatory scrutiny – a point acknowledged by industry insiders as soon as the legislation passed. Its other unadvertised features included a significant weakening of safeguards against predatory or racially discriminatory lending, especially in rural areas of the country. The “Bank Lobbyist Act,” Senator Elizabeth Warren dubbed it.
All these votes occurred during the 115th Congress, which has done next to nothing about the serious problems facing ordinary Americans. If you’re wondering how this same body of elected officials could somehow manage to act on item after item from Wall Street’s legislative wish list while doing, Mimi Walters is part of the answer – Walters and the too many others in Washington who have built their congressional lives around the pursuit of campaign donations from big banks, securities firms, payday lenders and other giant financial companies.
On the issues that matter to them, Walters has a long track record of ignoring not only the interests but the will of the people she is sworn to represent. The great majority of Americans, across party lines, want to see tougher regulation of banks and lenders, and worry that Wall Street has too much influence over our economy and government. Yet not once in all the actions described here has Rep. Walters called for stronger rather than weaker regulation of banks, lenders and other Wall Street entities.