WASHINGTON -- Most senators went easy on Chief Executive Jamie Dimon during his first trip to Capitol Hill to answer questions about JPMorgan Chase & Co.'s huge trading loss.
But Elizabeth Warren has been relentlessly criticizing Dimon in hopes of boosting her Senate campaign in Massachusetts and grabbing a seat on the dais at future hearings involving Wall Street executives.
“If there is one thing we learned at [Wednesday’s] hearing, it’s that Wall Street still doesn’t get it,” Warren said in an email her campaign blasted out not long after Dimon wrapped up his appearance before the Senate Banking Committee. “Jamie Dimon and his defenders have spent millions lobbying for delays, loopholes and exceptions to block any real accountability on Wall Street -- and they’re still at it.”
Warren reiterated her call last month that Dimon step down from the board of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York in light of the more than $2-billion trading loss by JPMorgan under his watch as chief executive. And she’s used the loss to argue that Congress needs to reinstate the Glass-Steagall prohibition on commercial banks engaging in investment bank activities.
Polls show a tight race between Warren, who recently secured the Democratic nomination in Massachusetts, and her opponent, incumbent Republican Scott Brown.
Warren made a name for herself battling Wall Street, first as head of the government watchdog panel monitoring the $700-billion federal financial bailout fund and then in helping launch the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
The Massachusetts Senate race already was shaping up as a referendum on the public’s views of Wall Street, particularly after Warren became one of the few prominent Democrats to fully embraced the Occupy Wall Street movement last year.
In the last few weeks, Warren has seized on the JPMorgan trading loss, arguing it shows Wall Street has not changed its ways. She has used it to highlight Brown’s close relationship with the financial sector -- Forbes magazine in 2010 named him one of Wall Street’s favorite congressmen based on campaign contributions -- and tried to link him with Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney as defenders of big bankers.
“Those guys have made it clear to Wall Street if you’ll elect them they promise they will stand with Wall Street all the way and Wall Street’s willing to make an investment in them,” Warren said Wednesday on MSNBC’s "Hardball with Chris Matthews.” “They understand they’ll be a great return on Wall Street’s money if they can get Scott Brown and Mitt Romney elected.”
[Updated at 10 a.m., June 14: Brown also reacted to Dimon’s testimony, criticizing his oversight as CEO and saying big banks needed to “think twice about taking unnecessary risks that undermine public confidence in our financial system.”
“The way for Jamie Dimon to demonstrate his seriousness about the mistakes that led to JPMorgan’s $2-billion trading loss is to take back the bonuses and incentive compensation from those who were involved in the failed London trades, including himself as CEO,” said Brown, who does not serve on the banking committee. “The only way to change the culture on Wall Street is to hit people where it hurts -- in the wallet.”]
If Warren wins the race this November she’s very likely to land a seat on the Senate Banking Committee and join a handful of outspoken liberals, such as Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), who were among Dimon’s only tough questioners on Wednesday. And that would make things much more uncomfortable for Wall Street executives who have to appear before the committee in the future.