“Occupy” Movement Descends on Mortgage Bankers Association in Chicago

Public Campaign Action Fund is now Every Voice. Check out our new website: EveryVoice.org

The Occupy movement that’s been sweeping the nation continued yesterday in Chicago, where protesters gathered outside a meeting of the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA). One of the more colorful aspects of yesterday’s protest activity came from National People’s Action and The New Bottom Line, who organized a “Robin Hood” action outside the meeting location.  

The housing bubble that burst during the last decade was a major factor in the economic collapse of 2008, and the current foreclosure crisis continues to affect millions of Americans, many of whom were given loans that the banks knew they couldn’t pay back.

A look at MBA’s campaign and lobbying spending over the last 10 years shows they were heavily engaged with Congress, peddling influence, and gaming the system that eventually came crashing down.

According to data from the Center for Responsive Politics, since 2002 MBA spent nearly $3 million in campaign contributions on members of Congress, and more than $24 million in lobbying expenditures. This all took place during the expansion of the housing bubble where everyone, including Congress, turned a blind eye to potential trouble, and in its aftermath, when further regulations were (and currently are) being fought tooth and nail by the industry.

Here’s a breakdown of MBA campaign spending in the last six election cycles:

Election Cycle
Campaign Contributions

And here’s a breakdown of MBA’s lobbying spending since 2002

Year Lobbying Expenses
2011 $1,240,700
2010 $2,620,000
2009 $2,950,000
2008 $4,213,000
2007 $2,655,986
2006 $2,732,842
2005 $2,377,920
2004 $2,400,573
2003 $1,885,457
2002 $1,428,032
Total $24,504,510

According to the Chicago Tribune, Mortgage Bankers Association CEO David Stevens told attendees of the meeting not to "engage or confront" the protesters. Meanwhile the MBA is engaging Congress every day with campaign cash and teams of lobbyists, while refusing to confront the problem that had a major hand in bringing on. 

The Occupy movement has many targets. None of which may have had a more direct impact on ordinary people than MBA and the housing crisis. When you look at MBA’s big money influence over Congress, it becomes clearer how we got to this point, and why MBA is an important target for the Occupy protesters.