Brown winning concessions for state in financial overhaul


Republican Scott Brown owes his election in part to the public furor over the so-called “Cornhusker Kickback,” the backroom deal that Sen. Ben Nelson, Nebraska Democrat, struck for his vote to pass the health care bill. Now he is following Mr. Nelson’s example, winning concessions in the financial-overhaul bill on behalf of Massachusetts banks.

The “Massachusetts Miracle” who delivered Edward M. Kennedy’s Senate seat to Republicans is now wheeling and dealing with both parties and hinting that he just might vote with Democrats if they agree to goodies for financial institutions in his state.

It’s an instructive look this midterm election year at how quickly a candidate who campaigned against “closed-door meetings” and “backroom deals” can learn to craft them once in office.

Mr. Brown scored an exemption for home-state interests like Fidelity Investments and the Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Co. from some new restrictions on trading. He also persuaded congressional negotiators to let banks invest up to 3 percent of their capital in private equity funds and hedge funds, a change that would help such banks as Boston-based State Street Corp.

Then, Democrats bowed to a more philosophical demand that knowledgeable officials say was choreographed by Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. On June 29, Democratic negotiators agreed to remove a $19 billion tax on large banks and hedge funds after Mr. Brown threatened to vote “no” because of it.

Mr. Brown wouldn’t say whether the concession was enough to win his vote.

“Over the July recess, I will continue to review this important bill,” Mr. Brown said.

Advocates of the bill to rein in Wall Street were casting Mr. Brown’s dealmaking as a shift from underdog candidate in a pickup truck to something more amorphous. The Massachusetts branch of Americans for Financial Reform planned a news conference to try to present him Thursday with a new BMW.

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