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Tim Pawlenty leaves Romney campaign for lobbying job

Tim Pawlenty speaks during the Iowa straw poll in Ames, Iowa August 13, 2011.

Daniel Acker/REUTERS

Tim Pawlenty, a former Republican presidential candidate and a top supporter of Mitt Romney, stepped down from his role in the Romney campaign on Thursday to become a top Washington lobbyist for Wall Street banks.

Mr. Pawlenty will become the head of the Financial Services Roundtable, a U.S. bank lobbying group that represents JP Morgan Chase & Co and Wells Fargo & Co, among other financial companies, the group said on Thursday.

After giving up his own bid for the Republican presidential nomination, Mr. Pawlenty quickly backed Mr. Romney and has been a national co-chairman of Mr. Romney's campaign. Mr. Pawlenty, a former governor of Minnesota, was passed over to become Mr. Romney's vice presidential running mate in favour of Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan.

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Mr. Pawlenty takes over as president and chief executive officer of the industry group on Nov. 1, it said in a statement. He will replace outgoing CEO Steve Bartlett, whose departure was announced earlier this year.

Mr. Pawlenty said in a statement released by the Romney campaign that Mr. Romney has his full support and continued faith in his vision and policies.

"My new position as CEO of The Financial Services Roundtable does not allow me to participate in partisan cam paign activities. For that reason, I am stepping down from my position as co-chair of Mitt Romney's presidential campaign," Mr. Pawlenty said.

Mr. Romney called Mr. Pawlenty a dear friend who will be missed.

"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. I congratulate him on his new position and wish him every success in carrying out his new mission," he said.

As the industry's top lobbyist, Mr. Pawlenty will play a major role in the industry's efforts to make new Dodd-Frank rules, which Congress passed in 2010 in response to the 2007-2009 financial crisis, more favourable for Wall Street as regulators implement the law.

The measure – a response to the crisis fueled by risky financial swaps trading at some firms that required multibillion-dollar tax payer bailouts – has yet to be fully enacted.

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"Few industries have more impact on the entire economy – and on the lives of average Americans – than financial services. I realize there is still work to be done to continue to earn customers' confidence," Mr. Pawlenty said in the statement.

"Our members will best accomplish that goal by responsibly investing every day in our communities and job creators," he added.

The Financial Services Roundtable represents 100 integrated financial services companies and accounts for $92.7-trillion in managed assets, $1.2-trillion in revenue, and 2.3 million jobs, according to the group.

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