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March 18, 2009

Apparently, AIG didn't pay enough protection money to the Dems in Congress

The Center for Responsive Politics' OpenSecrets website is a treasure trove of information on where the money is flowing in politics. A glance at contributions by AIG employees yields some interesting insights.

The first chart shows overall contributions, organized by election cycle and recipients' party. Until 1992, AIG contributions favored the Republicans, but since then, each election has tipped the balance even more in the Democrats' favor. In the just-concluded cycle, Democrats reaped 69% of AIG contributions.

(Click each image to enlarge)

In congressional elections, Democrats took in over 75% of AIG contributions. Not surprising, since Democrats control both houses, and Congress holds life-or-death regulatory power over corporations like AIG.

So, which members of Congress were the greatest benefactors of AIG largesse? Some familiar names top the list, all of them senators (at the time). The top recipients were also presidential candidates at one time or another in the cycle, so they naturally drew greater attention, with Barack Obama the clear winner in contributions.

Interestingly, close behind Obama in contributions was Senator Chris Dodd. Although his presidential campaign fizzled early, he still managed to far outpace the third-place recipient (McCain). There's no reason this should be puzzling. Dodd is chairman of the powerful Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee, which happens to have regulatory power over corporations like AIG.

AIG's troubled Financial Products affiliate, where most of the corporation's hemorraghing has occurred, is responsible for the vast majority of employee contributions to Democrats, with that unit favoring the Dems 86%-14%. OpenSecrets doesn't detail the individual recipients of the Financial Products contributions, but simple logic dictates that Dodd was a prime beneficiary.

Perhaps Financial Products thought that it was getting its money's worth when Dodd included an amendment in the stimulus package specifically allowing companies like AIG to pay out contractually-obligated merit bonuses using bailout money.

Dodd, however, apparently felt like he had no choice but to join the dogpile of phony outrage when AIG went ahead and did what the Dodd amendment specifically authorized.

Sigh. What's this country coming to? It used to be that when businessmen bought a politician, he stayed bought.

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