Citing ‘Optics,’ Frank Cancels Thursday Fundraiser

Posted June 9, 2010 at 12:44pm

House Financial Services Chairman Barney Frank (D-Mass.) has postponed a fundraiser scheduled for Thursday morning, the same day the Wall Street bill conference is set to begin.

The fundraising breakfast, which was to be held at the National Democratic Club Townhouse, was postponed “due to unavoidable scheduling conflicts,” according to an e-mail sent Wednesday by Frank’s fundraisers at Erickson & Co.

“This breakfast will be rescheduled and information on a future date will be provided soon,” the e-mail continued.

While the fundraiser wasn’t directed at a specific industry, lobbyists said it would have looked bad for the chief negotiator on the massive financial regulatory reform bill to have his hand out on the day the House and Senate begin the formal conference.

Frank spokesman Steven Adamske said lack of time and optics were the reason for the cancellation.

“Our time is rapidly evaporating,” Adamske said. “We are canceling things left and right.”

Further Adamske said “the optics of a fundraiser where there could be members of the financial services industry is not wise to do.”

Frank isn’t the first politician to make the decision to cancel an event to shake the money tree because of the Congressional calendar.

“He is wise to cancel,” a Democratic fundraiser said. “The fundraiser was probably scheduled long before the conference was scheduled. Then, the conference gets scheduled and someone notices the problem — and it would have been a perception problem.”

“This has happened to us before,” the fundraiser added. “You have no other good option but to cancel the fundraiser.”

In recent months, Frank has moved to distance himself and the House Financial Services panel from the influence of K Street. This spring Frank publicly banned committee staff from communicating with Peter Roberson, a former aide who left the panel for IntercontinentalExchange Inc.

Before decamping for the private sector, Roberson was charged with writing parts of the financial services bill, including the regulations for credit-default swaps.