WASHINGTON &MDASH; with the nation's home foreclosure disaster becoming a hot topic in Congress, Wachovia Corp. is stepping up its federal lobbying presence.
The Charlotte-based bank has signed four additional lobbying firms to its cadre of power brokers in the last few months.
Two of the firms were hired specifically to keep tabs on mortgage reform legislation being considered on Capitol Hill. The other two are working on patent and tax issues, records show.
Wachovia has a more modest in-house lobbying operation than Charlotte's other major financial institution, Bank of America, with $1.36 million spent in-house compared with BofA's $3.2 million in 2007, lobbying disclosure records show.
Wachovia's direct lobbying is led by Walter Price, senior vice president of federal government relations, and Vincent Randazzo, director of government relations.
Bank of America's office is headed by John Collingwood, director of federal relations and public policy.
With the addition of the multi-client lobbying firms it hired, Wachovia's overall lobbying expenses in 2007 were $2.3 million, up from $1.8 million in 2006.
BofA spent $4.8 million in 2007, up from $3.1 million in 2006.
It's common for major corporations to have both in-house lobbyists and outside firms that specialize in specific issues. One of the firms Wachovia hired earlier this month, Porterfield & Lowenthal, is run by former aides to the Senate Banking Committee.
Wachovia has had contracts with at least 11 lobbying firms since 2006, while BofA has worked with at least 13.
"There are a variety of different financial services issues at play at the federal level that are important to our employees, customers and shareholders, and that's why we work with these different firms," said Carrie Ruddy, a spokeswoman for Wachovia.