Maine 2nd District U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin just set a record. He has raised more money, more quickly than any other freshman representative in history: over $700,000 in just the first quarter of 2015.

Poliquin’s re-election campaign trumpeted that $700,000 number several days before finance reports were due. They wanted to get that record-breaking figure out there as a sign of how hard he’ll work to fight to retain the seat he won in 2014. They wanted to get it out there early because they preferred that the media focus on how much he raised rather than from whom he raised it.

They were mostly successful. The headlines this week were about Poliquin’s fundraising prowess and not the sources of his campaign cash. One reporter, however – the Kennebec Journal’s Michael Shepherd – revisited the issue when the finance reports actually came out and dug a little deeper.

He found something fascinating. Not only had a large amount of Poliquin’s contributions come from sources connected to Wall Street firms, but Poliquin, a Republican, had actually raised nearly as much money just from financial services industry political action committees as his likely Democratic opponent, Emily Cain, had raised altogether.

Not all of Poliquin’s money came from Wall Street. He also got plenty of support from other traditional conservative backers: $5,000 from the Koch brothers and $4,000 from ExxonMobil, for instance. But the number of contributions he took from the financial service industry is striking.

Why does Wall Street love Poliquin so much?

In part, no doubt, it’s his personal background. Poliquin himself is a millionaire former Wall Street investment banker who decided to buy himself a political office (and the third time was the charm, after he lost primaries for governor and the U.S. Senate and then moved into the 2nd District to run for Congress).

In part, it’s likely because he now sits on the Financial Services Committee, which is supposed to be regulating Wall Street’s excesses, but far too often these days seeks instead to strip away consumer protections in the service of the big banks. A seat on that committee is a golden ticket for a Wall Street-friendly freshman representative.

“By my count, $133,000 of Poliquin’s haul came from the types of companies he regulates on the House Financial Services Committee,” wrote Shepherd in his blog post on Poliquin’s fundraising. “That includes Bank of America, American Express, Barclays, Citigroup and Goldman Sachs.”

I would imagine that the biggest reason why Wall Street is backing Poliquin, however, is that they see him as an investment that’s already paying off.

One of Poliquin’s first acts once he was sworn in was to vote with the Republican majority in the House to weaken the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. It’s legislation passed in the wake of the great crash, bailout and recession and meant to provide greater government oversight of the big banks, hopefully preventing another financial collapse.

In February, Poliquin’s pro-Wall Street streak continued when he voted to cripple the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the government agency created to ensure transparency, fairness and accountability in financial services.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is where regular people can turn when they’ve been wronged by the big banks. The legislation Poliquin voted for would have cut the bureau’s budget and would have made it more difficult for the agency to pursue financial criminals who are fleecing the public.

Since its creation, the bureau has returned more than $4.6 billion to more than 15 million consumers.

As Americans for Financial Reform put it in a news release, “HR 50 would tilt the playing field even further in favor of financial sector companies and lobbyists. It would be a gift to Wall Street and would invite a resurgence of the reckless practices that caused such enormous economic damage just six years ago.”

These financial firms are obviously hopeful that Poliquin’s advocacy on their behalf will continue. One of the things on his plate right now on the Financial Sevices Committee, for instance, is a set of new rules to regulate payday lenders, a particularly unscrupulous and lucrative sector of the financial industry. The Political Action Committe for Advance America, the nation’s largest payday lender, has already given $1,000 to his campaign.

It’s a long time until Poliquin’s next election in November 2016, and there will be plenty more campaign finance reports released between now and then. Let’s hope that the next time his campaign announces a massive haul, the media focuses not just on the amount raised but also on who it came from, and what they might want in return.

Mike Tipping is a political junkie who works for the Maine People’s Alliance. He can be contacted at:

[email protected]

Twitter: @miketipping

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