There’s a saying about politics and law making that if you’re not at the table you’re on the menu. In other words, if you’re a businessman and a big government liberal threatens your industry, cozy up to him to try to minimize the damage. The alternative is to take a principled stand and oppose the big government scheme for the bad policy it is. This is the dilemma bankers in Nebraska faced when confronting Dodd-Frank in 2010 according to articles from Nebraska Watch and American Banker. Guess which side Nebraska Senate primary candidate Sid Dinsdale fell on? From Nebraska Watch:
…[A] lengthy, detailed 2010 story about Dodd-Frank by American Banker strongly suggests Dinsdale pressured then-Sen. Ben Nelson to change his vote to allow the Dodd-Frank bill to the floor for a vote…The article goes on to detail how the American Bankers Association blamed the Independent Community Bankers of America for getting Nelson to change his vote after hearing from a couple of Nebraska bankers — and Dinsdale was one of those named. Although Dinsdale wasn’t quoted in the story, Mark Hesser, president of Pinnacle Bank, told the magazine he pushed provisions favorable to community banks in talks with Nelson.
American Banker also noted:
While Nelson initially opposed moving the reform bill forward, he changed his mind at a critical moment. George Beattie, president of the Nebraska Bankers Association, said that switch came after talking with local bankers. “Sen. Nelson told me he knew he was going to change his vote and we were going to be disappointed,” said Beattie. “He had contact from a couple banks in Nebraska indicating he should support the bill.” Although Beattie declined to name the banks, others pointed to two executives: Jeff Gerhart, president of the $31 million-asset Bank of Newman Grove and Sid Dinsdale, the chairman of $2.7 billion-asset Pinnacle Bank.
In the Nebraska Watch article, a Dinsdale spokesman denies any involvement pushing Nelson to be the critical 60th vote. So Dinsdale denies lobbying Nelson, but was a member of an association that did work to “improve” the law. Meanwhile his colleague, Mark Hesser, the President of the Lincoln Pinnacle Bank speaks forcefully about the need to be at the table, so to speak, to “get the best passed that you could.” Seems a bit questionable.
By itself, it could be dismissed. But this combined with Dinsdale’s recent suggestion regarding the pro-life movement that “we need to set aside something like that” and his history of donating to Democrats (Nelson, Raimondo, Thomson) make it apparent that, regardless of how deep the influence peddling goes in this particular case, Dinsdale is someone who will set aside principle and cozy up to politicians hostile to the American tradition if it gets him or his business an edge in the moment. Would he be as flexible with his principles as a Senator?