Is US Trade Rep a Wall Street Crony? Watchdog Groups Demand Transparency.

Noting deep ties between the country’s top trade negotiator and Wall Street banks, ten groups representing millions of Americans are calling on the White House to make public all communications between U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman and the massive financial institutions that stand to benefit from proposed trade deals.

In a letter (pdf) addressed to Froman—lead champion of President Barack Obama’s corporate-friendly trade agenda—groups including National People’s Action, Public Citizen, Friends of the Earth, and CREDO Action request “the prompt, voluntary, and proactive disclosure of all records of communication between yourself and representatives of the ten largest U.S. financial institutions—including lobbyists, employees, and trade associations—during your tenure as U.S. Trade Representative.”

Those financial institutions include JP Morgan Chase & Co., Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Goldman Sachs, and Citigroup.

In particular, the letter’s signatories are concerned that provisions in proposed trade agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) or the TransAtlantic Trade & Investment Partnership (TTIP) would weaken or rollback existing U.S. financial regulations, for the benefit of big banks.

Critics have warned, for example, that Wall Street lobbyists are pushing to undercut the Dodd-Frank banking reforms through international trade negotiations.

“Citigroup snuck a lobbyist-written Dodd-Frank rollback into last December’s CRomnibus, so we already know they’re willing to hijack unrelated bills to weaken regulations on Wall Street,” said Kurt Walters of Rootstrikers. “Wall Street has been lobbying to include financial regulation in ongoing trade negotiations, and Americans deserve to know what Froman has been privately saying to these big banks.”

Read on.

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