So here’s your civics test: Guess how much money Wall Street securities and investment firms and their partners contributed to candidates for national office since 1998?

By the way, the two political parties and their candidates got roughly the same amounts, unlike what press releases today from the offices of U.S. Sen. Richard Burr, R-NC, and NC GOP Chairman Tom Fetzer might’ve led you to believe.

For extra credit, answer the question: Why doesn’t Congress crack down on the Wall Street gang and prevent them from rolling out the next crazy credit explosion that makes them tons of money while wrecking world economies?

Answers — and a lot of great detail from our friends at Democracy North Carolina — below the fold.

And the answer to the first question is: $560 million.

Yes, that’s right, half a billion dollars in political contributions, which of course leaves out all the salaries and bonuses paid to ex- and wanna-be officeholders, congressional staffers, U.S. Treasury Secretaries, Federal Reserve Board Chairmen, and — well, you get the idea.

The answer to the bonus question: Same as above.

Burr and Fetzer issued statements today casting aspersions on the Democrats who take money from Wall Street.

But as Democracy NC’s Bob Hall points out, they’re conveniently overlooking the fact that GOP’ers, too, are on the take attentive to the wishes of Wall Street contributors.

Bottom line, says Hall:

Both political party and most federal candidates rely heavily on Wall Street and other financial interests for campaign contributions. Given that reliance, the media and public should be vigilant about the details of any financial reform legislation and attentive to the evaluations of independent consumer-protection groups. But it’s unrealistic to expect candidates of either party to abandon their dependence on Wall Street as a source of campaign money unless they have a significant alternative, such as the “voter-owned elections” programs that provide optional public financing for some state candidates in North Carolina.