Former Senator Judd Gregg (R-NH), who consistently opposed efforts to bring more transparency to the over-the-counter (OTC) derivatives market, has joined the board of directors of IntercontinentalExchange (ICE), a “leading operator of regulated futures exchanges and over-the-counter markets.”
As a member of the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee, Senator Gregg was assigned to a bipartisan working group to tackle regulation of the OTC derivatives market (the notional value of OTC derivatives contracts has ballooned to $600 trillion in recent years, and many experts have pointed to the lack of oversight and transparency in OTC derivatives trading as a key cause of the 2008 financial crisis). Many reformers were pushing to move OTC derivatives trading onto well-regulated exchanges, which are required to make public “daily information on settlement prices, volume, open interest, and opening and closing ranges,” but Senator Gregg opposed such a move, as did many of the Wall Street giants who had the most to gain from secretive derivatives trading.
ICE’s Chairman and CEO noted that Senator Gregg’s “extensive public policy and business experience” will be “extremely valuable as we expand our global marketplace.” Although Senate rules would prohibit Senator Gregg from lobbying “Members, officers, or employees of the Senate for a period of two years after leaving office,” there’s nothing preventing him from meeting with Members and their staff on the House side. Even if he doesn’t officially lobby anyone in the Senate—and he hasn’t registered as federal lobbyist—Senator Gregg could still play a key role in advising ICE on how to improve its lobbying efforts targeted at his former colleagues.
ICE spent a little over $800,000 on lobbying in 2010, and has steadily increased its lobbying expenditures in recent years:
Source: Center for Responsive Politics
Last year, Peter Roberson, a former professional staff member on the House Financial Services Committee, caused quite a stir when he became a registered lobbyist for ICE after he played a key role in drafting the Committee’s derivatives bill. Then-Chairman Barney Frank (D-MA) publicly slammed Roberson for his trip through the revolving door, and announced that he had permanently banned his staff from communicating with Roberson on any financial regulatory issues.
But with the addition of Senator Gregg to its board, we have a feeling ICE won’t have any problem making its voice heard on Capitol Hill in the years to come..
Michael Smallberg is a POGO Investigator.
Painting of Judd Gregg by Richard Whitney, used under GNU Free Documentation License.