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Wall Street, financial firms top $2 billion in 2016 election cycle spending

Wall Street banks and financial firms spent more than $2 billion in the 2016 federal election cycle, according to a report released Wednesday by Americans for Financial Reform, a non-profit coalition of more than 200 civil rights, consumer, labor, business, investor and faith-based groups.

Of that amount, $1.2 billion came from campaign contributions by individuals and entities associated with financial firms, nearly twice the amount from other business sectors identified in the data, with 55% going to Republicans and 45% to Democrats. In addition, the financial industry reported spending $898 million on lobbying in 2015 and 2016.

That compares to 2008 election cycle figures of nearly $600 million in campaign contributions and more than $800 million spent on lobbying, and more than $700 million in campaign contributions and $400 million spent on lobbying in the 2000 campaign.

Some of the biggest spenders were hedge funds and private investment funds in combined spending on lobbying and contributions, including Renaissance Technologies at $53 million, Paloma Partners at $41 million and Elliott Management at $28 million, according to the report, “Wall Street Money in Washington,” which is based on data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics for AFR.

“If you want to understand why finance too often hurts consumers, investors and businesses far from Wall Street, take a look at these numbers,” Lisa Donner, executive director of Americans for Financial Reform, said in a statement.