Pawlenty to become top banking lobbyist

WASHINGTON – Former Gov. Tim Pawlenty has been named the head of the Financial Services Roundtable, one of the top bank lobbying groups in Washington, which represents the nation’s top 100 financial institutions.

The announcement comes a little over a year after Pawlenty dropped out of the Republican presidential contest. Since then, Pawlenty has served as a surrogate for Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign and was a shortlist contender for the Republican vice-presidential nominee. Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan was chosen instead.

Unlike many heads of Washington trade associations, Pawlenty has neither served in Congress, nor does he have much private sector experience. He was governor of Minnesota from 2003 to 2011.

Pawlenty’s hiring comes as the banking industry continues to grapple with implementing the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial overhaul which was prompted by the 2008 financial crisis. The FSR helped lead the industry’s opposition to many provisions in the legislation.

“I’m excited about this new challenge,” Pawlenty said in a statement. “I realize there is still work to be done to continue to earn customers’ confidence.”

The FSR spent nearly $7.7 million on lobbying in 2011, according to Opensecrets.org, and has has contributed $380,000 to candidates running for election this year.

Pawlenty succeeds the group’s long-serving president, Steve Barlett, a former Texas Congressman. Bartlett reportedly earned $2 million a year.

UPDATE:

The Romney campaign issued a statement quoting both Pawlenty and Romney.

“It is an honor to call Mitt and Ann my friends,” said Tim Pawlenty. “My new position as CEO of The Financial Services Roundtable does not allow me to participate in partisan campaign activities. For that reason, I am stepping down from my position as co-chair of Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign. My work with Mitt has been a privilege. Mitt Romney is a truly good man and great leader. As the campaign moves into the home stretch, he has my full support and continued faith in his vision and his policies.”

“Tim Pawlenty is a dear friend,” said Mitt Romney. “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. 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. I congratulate him on his new position and wish him every success in carrying out his new mission.”