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Saturday, October 11, 2008

A Fun Little Exercise

AIG spent $11,379,000 lobbying in 2007. So far, in the first two quarters of 2008, they've spent $6,730,000. Third quarter statistics are due October 21st.

The American government now owns 80% of AIG.

AIG is still paying lobbyists to lobby the American Government.

I like the way digby puts it: The government is paying lobbyists to lobby itself.

Via Eric Umansky and Sharona Coutts at ProPublica:

An AIG spokesman, Joseph Norton, told us via e-mail a few minutes ago: "We are not a GSE [government-sponsored entity] and are therefore not restricted. We remain a share-holder owned entity and continue advocacy activities."

[...]

"That's an absurd and unacceptable response," Fred Wertheimer of Democracy 21 told us. "Government officials should move immediately to correct this situation. The government now owns AIG. And the government should not be retaining private lobbyists and lobbying firms to lobby itself."

Wertheimer added, "It sounds like AIG officials don't seem to understand that the United States government owns them now, and they are not freewheeling independent operators in the private sector as they used to be."
So, I did some digging and found out that one of AIG's lobbying firms, Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld, also lobbies for the Colombian government, the Government of Georgia, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and is chock full of troubling characters:
  • James C. Langdon Jr., Senior Executive Partner at Akin Gump, is a Bush Pioneer having raised at least $100,000 for Bush in the 2004 presidential election.
  • Bill Paxon, Senior Advisor, is another Bush Pioneer, former chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC).
  • Ken Melman, former deputy assistant to George W. Bush and director of White House political affairs, who's also been linked to Jack Abramoff
There are also some Democrats on the team:
  • Robert S. Strauss, former U.S. ambassador to Russia, chairman of the Democratic National Committee and special trade representative under President Carter;
  • Vernon E. Jordan Jr., former chairman of the Clinton Presidential Transition Team

Here's another tidbit from a 2005 WaPo article:

"President Bush's top independent intelligence adviser met last winter with investment bankers in China to help secure his law firm's role in lobbying for a state-run Chinese energy firm and its bid for the U.S. oil company Unocal Corp., according to his law firm, Akin Gump.

The involvement of James C. Langdon Jr., chairman of the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board and a major Bush fundraiser, underscores the tangled Washington connections beneath CNOOC Ltd.'s bid...

Langdon's involvement, given his dual role as Bush intelligence adviser and energy lawyer at the law firm Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP, may prove politically problematic, some security experts said. Members of the intelligence board, known as PFIAB, are granted the highest security clearance and develop top-secret advisories and reports for the president, most of which are not even available to members of Congress."

It looks like BushCo was already paying lobbyists to lobby his damn self. It just didn't matter to the American public until they watched their tax money prop up AIG. Now, maybe, everybody will pay attention? Nah.

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