Asked directly whether the group gets money from the banking industry, Bob Johnson said “you would have to talk with their representatives. I have not done so.”
According to Zamarripa, Stop Too Big To Fail started coming together when Bob Johnson mentioned the idea late last year to Zamarripa, who describes himself as a “lifelong Democrat” who knows Johnson through C4CC. He has become the public face of Stop Too Big To Fail, making media appearances on ABC and Fox and, and writing opinion columns for Politico and the Daily Caller.
In our interview, Zamarripa talked up raising capital requirements on banks and even voiced support for Blanche Lincoln’s derivatives regulation proposal. But none of that changes the kill-the-bill message in Stop Too Big To Fail’s ads.
“This looks to me like a piece of subterfuge,” said a pro-reform operative who examined Stop Too Big To Fail’s website.
One coda to all this: the man who reached out to economist Simon Johnson about joining the Stop Too Big To Fail call was Oliver Wolf, a director with the DCI Group. DCI is the Washington public affairs firm that specializes in astroturf efforts and has worked for everyone from the Burmese junta to the tobacco industry.
Wolf did not immediately respond to a call seeking comment.
Late Update: The group has now pulled Simon Johnson’s image and name from its website.