Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-MO), who has been called “Wall Street’s favorite lawmaker” due to his longtime connections to the banking industry through his family bank, will chair the House Financial Service Committee’s Subcommittee on National Security, Illicit Finance, and International Financial Institutions. Luetkemeyer has recently made his intent to undermine corporate accountability clear, stating that Republicans need to "empower company leaders and boards’” to '"push back on some of this woke stuff,"' referring to Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance (ESG) disclosure efforts. Luetkemeyer, a frequent critic of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and virtually all consumer protection efforts, will provide industry with a strong ally on the House Financial Services Committee.
Luetkemeyer “spent decades as an officer and director” for the Bank of St. Elizabeth, which was founded and owned by his family for several generations until it was acquired by another bank in early 2022. At the time of its acquisition, the Bank of St. Elizabeth was led by Luetkemeyer’s brother and Luetkemeyer’s wife was on its board of directors. In 2021, Luetkemeyer reported selling as much as $25 million of the bank’s shares following the acquisition for a profit of as much as $5 million, while also disclosing that his wife had collected a director fee from the bank.
In Congress, Luetkemeyer used his influence to take several actions that could have benefited his family bank before it changed hands. During the Obama administration, while his family bank’s primary federal regulator was the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), Luetkemeyer “led the charge” against Operation Choke Point. This Obama Administration banking policy, which cracked down on the flow of money to fraudulent merchants, was ended by the Justice Department in 2017. In 2015, Luetkemeyer issued a press release about meeting with the FDIC’s leadership and successfully pressuring the agency to adopt his preferred policies, including “‘calling on the FDIC Inspector General to conduct a formal investigation of the program and any staff who have played or may have played a role in the program.’”
Ultimately, Luetkemeyer has taken at least $43,250 from gun rights groups that opposed Operation Choke Point, including $27,400 from the National Rifle Association, which called Operation Choke Point one of the Obama administration’s “most insidious” scandals and supported Luetkemeyer's efforts to end the program. Luetkemeyer also received nearly $90,000 from the American Financial Services Association, which thanked the congressman in a July 2014 letter for introducing legislation to gut the program.
Meanwhile, Luetkemeyer’s family bank was a member of the American Bankers Association (ABA), a major banking trade group that has given him $125,000 since he entered Congress in 2009. The group also vocally opposed Operation Choke Point while it spent over $41 million as it lobbied on Luetkemeyer’s legislation to curtail the program from 2014 through 2020. The ABA also lobbied heavily on Luetkemeyer’s Systemic Risk Designation Improvement Act, another major bank deregulation bill called “a gift to some of the largest banks in the country.”
Luetkemeyer also introduced the Community Lending Enhancement and Regulatory Relief (CLEARR) Act, legislation that would have significantly benefited smaller banks like Luetkemeyer’s family bank and was condemned by over 40 consumer advocacy and civil rights groups as “drastically undermin[ing] our nation’s most important civil rights and consumer protection laws.”
More widely, Luetkemeyer’s top five donor industries—insurance, commercial banks, securities & investment, finance & credit companies, and real estate—gave him an estimated total of over $5.5 million from 2007 to 2022.
Luetkemeyer also represented industry interests while he was in the Missouri House from 1999 to 2005, where he served as Republican Caucus Chair. He worked to lift bank overdraft fee limits, criticized car title loan regulation, opposed police reports of elder abuse at nursing homes, and balked at a proposed ban against insurers relying on credit reports while he himself ran an insurance agency.
In three consecutive congresses, Rep. Luetkemeyer introduced the Systemic Risk Designation Improvement Act, legislation to roll back post-2008 crisis financial protections that consumer advocates called “a gift to some of the largest banks in the country.”
Luetkemeyer introduced the Community Lending Enhancement And Regulatory Relief (CLEARR) Act, which would have significantly raised regulatory thresholds to exempt smaller banks. Over 40 consumer advocacy and civil rights groups opposed the bill as threatening “our nation’s most important civil rights and consumer protection laws.”
Luetkemeyer introduced the FDIC Board Accountability Act, that sought to limit the influence of the CFPB’s director by removing them from the board of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), claiming the CFPB’s director “‘wields unchecked power over our economy.’” The bill was called “‘an appalling attack on consumer rights’” and came amid partisan fighting after Trump FDIC Chair Jelena McWilliams was overruled in not moving forward with “potential changes to the agency’s bank merger approval process.”
Rep. Luetkemeyer vocally opposed the CFPB’s Arbitration Rule—which made it easier for harmed consumers to join together in class-action lawsuits against abusive financial services companies—and co-sponsored a resolution that eventually invalidated the rule.
Rep. Luetkemeyer voted for the Protecting Consumers’ Access to Credit Act, legislation that over 150 organizations urged Congress to reject due to expanding “rent-a-bank” arrangements allowing high-cost lenders to avoid state interest rate caps.
Luetkemeyer voted for and was vocally supportive of S. 2155, the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act, a bill to weaken Dodd-Frank financial reforms that were “designed to tame Wall Street, protect consumers and make our financial system less fragile."
Rep. Luetkemeyer voted for and praised the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act as “‘historic’”—the act was Trump’s “signature legislative accomplishment” which slashed corporate taxes by 40% and predominantly benefited the wealthy.
Luetkemeyer voted for the OIRA Insight, Reform, and Accountability Act, a bill that sought to undermine the CFPB's independence by mandating lengthy reviews of new, proposed regulations which advocates stated "would have a crippling effect on the regulation of our financial system."
Luetkemeyer voted for H.R. 1116, the Taking Account of Institutions with Low Operation Risk (TAILOR) Act of 2017, which would have forced the CFPB and other regulators to “prioritize the costs of regulations to financial institutions,” among other anti-consumer provisions.
Rep. Luetkemeyer voted for the Searching For and Cutting Regulations that are Unnecessarily Burdensome Act (SCRUB) Act, an anti-regulatory bill that was criticized by House Finanical Service Democrats as “prioritiz[ing] corporate profits over the health and safety of the American public" and overriding agency expertise with an “unelected commission.”
In his first Congressional campaign in 2008, Luetkemeyer’s ads promoted his “conservative and agrarian stripes,” highlighting his cosponsorship of a “sanctity of marriage amendment,” his support for “gun rights,” and his “100 percent pro-life rating.”
That same cycle, Luetkemeyer’s first congressional campaign benefited from almost $49,000 in spending by the National Right to Life Committee while his campaign claimed his “support for the unborn is unparalleled.” In 2021, Luetkemeyer praised the potential reversal of Roe v. Wade, which he called a “‘tragic’” Supreme Court decision, and later praised its 2022 reversal as “‘restor[ing] the Constitutional rights of our citizens and the legislative process.’”
In 2020, Rep. Luetkmeyer was selected to serve on the Select Committee on the Coronavirus Crisis, using his position to accuse Speaker Pelosi of helping Joe Biden's presidential campaign while waging a witch hunt against President Trump.
Rep. Luetkemeyer voted to overturn the 2020 election results, claiming in joint letters with other election deniers that his vote "will not undermine" democracy nor "diminish the value of the vote of any individual citizen."
Luetkemeyer’s campaign contributors include individuals tied to the conservative movement, including over $20,700 from Rex Sinquefield, co-founder of Dimensional Fund Advisors and the Show-Me Institute, a conservative think tank. Luetkemeyer has also received at least $10,000 from the Koch Industries PAC, linked to the far-right billionaire Koch brothers.
After an unsuccessful bid to be a professional baseball player in the mid-1970s, Luetekmeyer quickly changed course and ran for several public positions, eventually running for the St. Elizabeth Village Board of Trustees, a University of Missouri council overseeing extension work, and a local ambulance election district board.
Also, not long after his 1974 college graduation, Luetkemeyer was president of a development corporation for a then-$1 million—about $4.5 million in 2022 dollars—nursing home, and continued to be listed as the corporation’s president as recently as the year 2000. Luetkemeyer’s father, who was Chairman of the family bank and its parent company, was identified as a board member of the nursing home in 1982.
In the 2008 election cycle, Luetkemeyer spent over $1 million of his own money on his first congressional campaign.
Today, Luetkemeyer likely remains a millionaire, reporting up to $1.35 million in at least 250 acres of property and savings in his 2021 financial disclosure as well as the sale of up to $25 million in St. Elizabeth Bancshares stock.