Pawlenty to Lead Banking Lobbyists

Photograph by Daniel Acker/Bloomberg

Tim Pawlenty during the Republican National Convention (RNC).

In politics, sometimes losing means winning:  Tim Pawlenty is moving to “K Street.”

Mitt Romney’s former presidential rival and current campaign surrogate is leaving his post as national co-chairman of the Republican’s campaign to head a Washington, D.C., lobbying firm, the Financial Services Roundtable (actually on Pennsylvania Avenue).

The former Minnesota governor and Wall Street critic will replace the firm’s longtime CEO, Steve Bartlett, Financial Services Roundtable said in a statement today. The group represents banking superpowers such as JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America and Citigroup.

Pawlenty, passed over for the job of Romney’s running mate, was a popular Minnesota governor when he served from 2003 to 2011. He struggled to become a contender in the early presidential race, dropping out after finishing a distant third in the Iowa Republican Party’s straw poll last year.

In a Bloomberg Television interview before he ended his presidential run, Pawlenty criticized the big banks, saying his “truth message to Wall Street is going to be, ‘Get your snout out of the trough.’”

As Roundtable president and CEO, Pawlenty now becomes a key player in the fight over implementing parts of the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act. The Hill reported the position’s salary can reach $1.8 million.

“Tim Pawlenty is a dear friend,” Romney said in a statement. “He’s brought energy, intelligence and tireless dedication to every enterprise in which he’s ever been engaged, and that certainly includes my presidential campaign. While I regret he cannot continue as co-chair of my campaign, his new position advancing the integrity of our financial system is vital to the future of our country.”

The announcement has left some in Washington scratching their heads.

Bloomberg View columnist and Washington Post blogger Ezra Klein tweeted after the announcement, “Here’s what I don’t understand: Romney trails in the polls. If Obama wins, how is Pawlenty a good pick for the Financial Roundtable?”

Greg Mott contributed reporting. 

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