Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty is stepping down as co-chairman of Mitt Romney's presidential campaign to take over one of Washington, D.C.’s most prominent lobbying firms.
Financial Services Roundtable announced Thursday that the former GOP presidential candidate will replace the company’s retiring CEO Steve Bartlett. The trade organization is a major Wall Street lobbying group, representing 100 integrated financial services companies, including J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. (NYSE: JPM) and Wells Fargo and Co. (NYSE: WFC).
According to the Hill, Pawlenty’s new job is one of the most “prestigious and coveted positions” in the city, primarily because it could pay a salary upwards of $1.8 million per year.
In a statement, Pawlenty said he valued his time spent in the public sector but is committed to “focusing fully” on his new role.
“I am grateful to have had the opportunity to serve, but I am now moving on and committed to focusing fully on this new opportunity,” he said.
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As the financial industry’s top lobbyist, Pawlenty will likely focus on altering the Dodd-Frank financial reform legislation to make it more favorable for Wall Street as regulators implement the law.
The law, passed in response to the risky financial trading that ultimately triggered the recent financial crisis and required multibillion government bailouts, has not been fully implemented.
Pawlenty dropped out of the race for the Republican presidential race early and quickly backed Romney for the party’s nomination. There was wide speculation that Romney would pick Pawlenty as his running mate, but U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan was eventually chosen.
Romney in a statement called Pawlenty a “dear friend” and said he was sad to see him leave his campaign.
"He’s brought energy, intelligence and tireless dedication to every enterprise in which he’s ever been engaged, and that certainly includes my presidential campaign," he said. "While I regret he cannot continue as co-chair of my campaign, his new position advancing the integrity of our financial system is vital to the future of our country."
The move comes as the Romney campaign attempts to find its stride after weeks of political setbacks. Although polls show the former Massachusetts governor almost neck-and-neck with President Barack Obama, Romney’s campaign has faced strong criticism from Democrats and Republicans alike after the appearance of a leaked video of Romney describing Obama supporters as “victims” who choose to rely on government handouts.
Romney described “Obama supporters” as the 47 percent of the population that does not pay a federal income tax.