In their yearslong quest to rescind bank regulations and oppose the Obama administration’s fiduciary rule, financial executives have at times needed the help of a group of Wall Street-friendly Democratic lawmakers to secure votes necessary to advance their agenda. Now, as those executives and Republican lawmakers seek the votes needed to help Donald Trump dismantle Dodd-Frank rules, a caucus of moderate House Democrats has chosen a former Wall Street executive and a prolific fundraiser of finance industry money to lead them. 

Rep. Jim Himes, D-Conn. — a former Goldman Sachs vice president representing Greenwich and the newly elected head of the moderate New Democratic Coalition — is scheduled on Wednesday to be feted at a fundraiser at the Washington home of a "Lou Costantino," according to an invite obtained by the transparency group Political Party Time. There is a Lou Costantino who is a former Merrill Lynch lobbyist who is now the top lobbyist for the Managed Funds Association — a major trade association for the hedge fund and private equity industries. Himes is one of the most active Wall Street fundraisers in the Democratic caucus, having raked in more than $2.6 million from the industry during his eight-year congressional career.

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If the fundraiser is the MFA's Lou Costantino, the timing of the event is significant, because it comes just as Wall Street lobbyists are looking to peel-off Democratic votes to change Dodd-Frank. Himes may be a top target because of his new position leading the New Democrat Coalition — a group of 61 Democrats in the House who have in the past provided key support to Republicans and Wall Street in their efforts to block or weaken Obama administration financial rules.

Himes’ office declined to comment on the fundraiser. The Managed Funds Association directed inquiries to Himes’ office and Lou Costantino of the Managed Funds Association did not reply to multiple requests for comment. Neither the Managed Funds Association, Himes' office nor the MFA's Lou Costantino responded to multiple efforts to confirm the Lou Costantino listed on the invitation was the same Lou Costantino who lobbies on behalf of the finance industry

For his part, Himes has said he supports the overall Dodd-Frank bill and he did vote against the Financial CHOICE Act that passed the House Financial Services Committee along partisan lines earlier this month. But with Republicans having trouble finding enough votes to support a full Dodd-Frank repeal, they may pursue a more piecemeal strategy to chip away at the law and other financial regulations in the same manner Himes and the New Democrats have sought to in the past.

For example, Himes co-sponsored legislation to weaken Dodd-Frank by reducing its mandated regulatory scrutiny of private equity firms. The bill, called the SBIC Advisers Relief Act of 2014, exempted advisers of small business investment companies (SBICs), a group which includes some private equity advisers, from SEC registration requirements.

Likewise, Himes’ co-sponsored a bill that repealed Dodd-Frank’s “push-out” rule that required banks to “push-out” risky credit default swaps into separate entities that would be required to have higher capital requirements and would not be eligible for federal assistance. The Wall Street Journal called the push-out rule “one of the most hated Dodd-Frank provisions on Wall Street.” The legislation was ultimately included in an omnibus bill passed as part of a deal to fund the federal government.

In 2011, Himes and the New Democrat Coalition opposed an early version of a proposed Fiduciary Rule designed to force financial advisers to prioritize their clients' best interests.

Many of those positions have reflected the Managed Funds Association’s agenda. Lobbying disclosures show the association has lobbied in recent years on the implementation of Dodd-Frank, as well as issues reflected in legislation Himes co-sponsored, including the “regulation and oversight of investment advisers,” and “legislation and regulation impacting alternative investment vehicles.”

The association also submitted an official comment letter with the Labor Department arguing against the Fiduciary Rule. “We believe that the Fiduciary Rule could impair the ability of plans and the IRAs of sophisticated investors to invest in private investment funds,” the letter said.

Wednesday's event for Himes at Costantino’s appears to be the second Wall Street-linked fundraiser for the Connecticut Democrat since the 2016 election that produced major victories for Republicans promising to undo financial industry regulation.

According to another invite obtained by Political Party Time, Himes held a fundraiser on March 14 at Heather Podesta + Partners, a lobbying firm that has since rebranded as Invariant LLC, and earlier this year lobbied on Dodd-Frank on behalf of Prudential Financial. Also this year, Invariant lobbied on “issues relating to financial services and banking regulations” on behalf of MacAndrews & Forbes, a diversified holding company led by billionaire Ronald Perelman, who has called President Donald Trump a “good friend.”