Punchinello’s Chronicles

March 20, 2009

Did AIG Get What It Paid For?

Filed under: View from the Bottom — Punchinello @ 12:44 am
Tags: , , ,

Here’s some interesting news that’s surfacing. No, it’s not all over the news or television, so most people may not hear about it. Apparently, most people get their primary news from Comedy Central, which isn’t much of a surprise. But it turns out that AIG has spent millions of dollars both in campaign contributions and lobbying efforts over the past number of years. Did they buy some bailout money? Should they get a refund?

According to ABC News:

AIG executives gave more than $630,000 during the 2008 political cycle even as the company was falling apart

According to the Center for Responsive Politics, which tracks campaign finance reports, more than $120,000 of that money was donated after AIG received its first $85 billion in federal bailout funds in September. The company has since received a total of $170 billion in taxpayer cash to prevent its collapse.

Their generosity included more than $23,000 to Obama’s campaign.

Then, according to OpenSecrets.org:

As long as everyone’s talking today about AIG’s payouts to its executives and foreign banks, let’s remember the payouts AIG has made over the years to politicians. In the last 20 years American International Group (AIG) has contributed more than $9 million to federal candidates and parties through PAC and individual contributions. That’s enough to rank AIG on OpenSecrets.org’s Heavy Hitters list, which profiles the top 100 contributors of all time.

Over time, AIG hasn’t shown an especially partisan streak, splitting evenly the $9.3 million it has contributed since 1989. In the last election cycle, though, 68 percent of contributions associated with the company went to Democrats.

Two senators who chair committees charged with overseeing AIG and the insurance industry, Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) and Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), are among the top recipients of AIG contributions. Baucus chairs the Senate Finance Committee and has collected more money from AIG in his congressional career than from any other company–$91,000. And with more than $280,000, AIG has been the fourth largest contributor to Dodd, who chairs the Senate’s Banking Committee. President Obama and his rival in last year’s election, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), are also high on the list of top recipients.

AIG has been a personal investment for lawmakers, too. Twenty-eight current members of Congress reported owning stock in AIG in 2007, worth between $2.5 million and $3.3 million. Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), one of the richest members of Congress, was by far the biggest investor in AIG, with stock valued around $2 million.

Last year AIG and its subsidiaries spent about $9.7 million on federal lobbying, or about $53,000 for every day Congress was in session in 2008. The company’s spending on advocacy last year was down from an all-time high of $11.4 million spent on lobbying in 2007.

ISN’T IT INTERESTING to see that Senator Dodd got all this money? This is the same Sen. Dodd who was directly responsible for forcing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mack into the sub-prime mortgage industry, and demanding high-risk mortgages go to minority buyers.

It’s also interesting to speculate on what may have happened, back in November 2008 when congress was in such a terrible rush to spend money on bailouts. In less than 30 days, our fearless leaders rammed through a nearly $1-trillion package, with billions going to…AIG, of course.

We should also keep in mind that there’s no question that members of congress, particularly Democrats and President Obama, knew for certain that executive bonus payments were contractual obligations on the AIG books.

So hmm…! Would it be fair to suppose that AIG bought billions of dollars from their friends in Congress? And would it be fair to suppose that everyone knew it was a sweetheart deal? Could we further suppose that when the American public “discovered” that millions of dollars were going for parties, spas, bonuses, and every other damn thing, it was a problem?

Who is squealing loudest today? Why are these men and women of congress so upset? How come there’s such a movement to tax 90% of all bonus money given to executives in companies taking bailout money? What do you suppose AIG will do about all this, when they learn they’ve been double-crossed?

Oh wait…they already know! I read it in the news over the past couple of days!

Why is Senator Dodd in charge of fixing problems he created? How come Senator John McCain has such “respect” for being willing to cross the aisle? Could it be that there’s NO difference between moderate Republicans and lunatic Democrats? And what was that all about, with “campaign finance reform?” Sen. McCain was big on that, right?

I wonder. I guess it must be another mystery.

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3 Comments »

  1. Comedy Central is probably better than CNN or Fox or NBC.

    They are taxing the bonus money but not giving back the campaign money. hmmmmm.

    Now that we know all about what happened to 1/1000th of the taxpayer money given to AIG, we can assume that the other $169.8b has been managed just as wisely. But the media and AIG and Geithner are doing a good job of keeping us from looking at that.

    Comment by Phil Staudt — March 20, 2009 @ 1:51 am | Reply

  2. We hear all about greedy capitalists, greedy business owners, greedy employers, and greedy taxpayers who want to keep more money. Seems we NEVER hear about greedy politicians who want to butter their pork on both sides, to mix a metaphor. 🙂

    Comment by Punchinello — March 20, 2009 @ 2:25 am | Reply

  3. […] Punchinello’s Chronicles put an intriguing blog post on Did AIG Get What It Paid For?Here’s a quick excerptHere’s some interesting news that’s surfacing. No, it’s not all over the news or television, so most people may not hear about it. Apparently, most people get their primary news from Comedy Central, which isn’t much of a surprise. But it turns out that AIG has spent millions of dollars both in campaign contributions and lobbying efforts over the past number of years. Did they buy some bailout money? Should they get a refund?According to ABC News:AIG executives gave more than $630,000 during the […]

    Pingback by Topics about Banking » Did AIG Get What It Paid For? — March 20, 2009 @ 3:04 am | Reply


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