Did Fidelity Investments and Federated Investors play a key role in the major changes to the Baker sunshine bill? That is the allegation raised by an article published this weekend by Barron's
The weekly claims that the two fund firms' top executives -- Fidelity's Ned Johnson and Federated's John Donahue -- "apparently" got a meeting with the National Economic Council in July as the Mutual Funds Integrity and Fee Transparency Act of 2003 was making its way through Rep. Richard Baker's House Capital Markets Subcommittee. It further alleges that the White House then intervened with Baker, telling him to water down his bill.
Baker later cancelled a scheduled vote by the subcommittee and made extensive changes to the bill, which was then moved on for consideration by the entire House.
The article fails to cite specific evidence or sources for the allegations, however.
The report also cites a "lobbyist" who posits that the White House only stepped into the matter to smooth over ruffled feathers on the subcommittee. That source told the paper that the Senate has no interest in passing this type of bill. Without support in the Senate, the bill would be doomed.
Barron's did not report on the content of the meeting and noted that a Fidelity spokesperson declined to say whether Johnson met with the National Economic Council. Federated did not comment to the paper.
The report further contents that Fidelity and Federated executives have donated money to GOP campaigns. Federated Vice President Richard Fisher and Donahue made large donations. The pair reportedly gave $200,000 and $80,000 respectively to the Florida Republican party in 2002.
However, OpenSecrets.org, notes that Fidelity Investments has given money to both parties, though it has "tended to favor Republicans," according to Barron's. Fidelity contributed $25,000 to the Republican National State Elections Committee in 2002 and $100,000 in 2000.
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