AIG-FP strongarmed donations for Dodd

posted at 10:10 am on March 30, 2009 by Ed Morrissey

Democrats stirred up populist outrage over the bonuses paid by AIG to its executives to keep them around while their Financial Products division gets shut down.  Perhaps a bonus paid by the actual “villains” at AIG-FP might garner some more accurate anger.  AIG-FP execs coughed up over $160,000 in 2006, while the division made the decisions that would lead to AIG’s collapse, to help re-elect Chris Dodd and get him locked into the chair of the Senate Banking Committee:

As Democrats prepared to take control of Congress after the 2006 elections, a top boss at the insurance giant American International Group Inc. told colleagues that Sen. Christopher J. Dodd was seeking re-election donations and he implored company executives and their spouses to give.

The message in the Nov. 17, 2006, e-mail from Joseph Cassano, AIG Financial Products chief executive, was unmistakable: Mr. Dodd was “next in line” to be chairman of the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee, which oversees the insurance industry, and he would “have the opportunity to set the committee’s agenda on issues critical to the financial services industry.

“Given his seniority in the Senate, he will also play a key role in the Democratic Majority’s leadership,” Mr. Cassano wrote in the message, obtained by The Washington Times.

Mr. Dodd’s campaign quickly hit pay dirt, collecting more than $160,000 from employees and their spouses at the AIG Financial Products division (AIG-FP) in Wilton, Conn., in the days before he took over as the committee chairman in January 2007. Months later, the senator transferred the donations to jump-start his 2008 presidential bid, which later failed.

Now, two years later, Mr. Dodd has emerged as a central figure in the government’s decision to let executives at the now-failing AIG collect more than $218 million in bonuses, according to the Connecticut attorney general – even as the company was receiving billions of dollars in assistance from the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP). He acknowledged that he slipped a provision into legislation in February that authorized the bonuses, but said the Treasury Department asked him to do it.

Before 2006, Dodd had already collected $78,000 from AIG employees over his career.  The “bonus” came at a critical time for AIG.  With their friend Dodd in charge of the committee after the Democratic takeover of the Senate and House, they could be sure that Dodd would keep the government off of their backs.  And he did — right until AIG had to beg for over $150 billion in taxpayer money to keep from crashing the financial system.

Cassano didn’t leave anything to chance.  His letter asked employees to make copies of their $2100 checks from both themselves and their spouses — the legal limit — and send the copies to his office.  It seems few missed the threat in that message, which was that anyone not contributing to Dodd was obviously not on the same team as the boss.  Bottom line: the $4200 was job insurance, and it only took six weeks for Cassano’s protection racket to raise $160,000 for Dodd.

The FEC may want to look into this for another reason.  Not only does this sound like a threat, but it could also have been a straw-man mechanism.  Why did Cassano need copies of the checks?  To ensure compliance, to be sure, but it could also have been to arrange reimbursements.  That’s flat-out illegal, and if AIG set up such a mechanism, then the execs who participated should be prosecuted for campaign-finance fraud.

In either case, it demonstrates the sleazy connections Dodd had with financial companies that he was supposed to oversee.  The Democrats will never in a million years actually hold Dodd accountable for his ethics, but hopefully the voters of Connecticut will in 2010.

Update: Jim Geraghty has a couple of historical items of interest on this story.  First, 84% of AIG-FP donations went to the Democrats.  Second, Dodd had built a government bailout for AIG in 2002 in case of a terrorist attack — to the tune of $100 billion.  Read both posts.


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How do we describe a pimp relationship?

seven on March 30, 2009 at 10:12 AM

You are going down Dodd!

ctmom on March 30, 2009 at 10:16 AM

Democrats stirred up populist outrage over the bonuses paid by AIG to its executives

Unfortunately, there was no outrage at Fannie & Freddie for the huge bonuses they paid to those who ran them into the ground. They also gave Dodd huge contributions.

jgapinoy on March 30, 2009 at 10:16 AM

Good post. I seriously wonder how many others are guilty of this conspiracy. More pay for play…

canditaylor68 on March 30, 2009 at 10:19 AM

bought and paid for

gatorboy on March 30, 2009 at 10:20 AM

It’s kind of funny how the Democrats squeezed these people for money then turned on them when it became convenient. Keep this in mind when considering their promises.

zmdavid on March 30, 2009 at 10:21 AM

I am moving to CT to run for senate. Sounds like any easy pickup now.

WashJeff on March 30, 2009 at 10:21 AM

The “populist rage” was grand theater. Phony describes it better.

I’m still waiting for Special Prosecutors to be appointed for the Fannie/Freddie mischief. Ethics hearings for any Politician that took a dime from AIG.

old trooper2 on March 30, 2009 at 10:22 AM

Dodd is a Democrat which = pure as the wind driven snow.

Therefore, nothing to see here.

Move along.

catmman on March 30, 2009 at 10:23 AM

What in the world does it take to get these mongrel rump hypocrites out of our government? This is the same guy who has yet to divulge the details of his sweet mortgage deals. We can all get fired, these people just keep on taking and nothing ever, EVER, happens to them. Disgusting. There goes my blood pressure. Again.

scalleywag on March 30, 2009 at 10:23 AM

These politicians are so covered with slime that they are without form. I have no idea why anyone should trust or have any faith in this pathetic government.

rplat on March 30, 2009 at 10:23 AM

Dodd needs to be brought before Congess in public hearings to answer under oath some pretty simple and basic questions.

But…Barney will cover for Dodd…as Dodd is covering for Barney. No one wants to start talking about how the housing mess got started….Maxine Waters wants to make sure of that, as does Obama. But, unless we are able to talk about openly, and question publicly, the origin of the mortgage crisis that led to the chain of events that leaves us where were are today…we’ll never fix a darn thing. Just keep playing along, hoping for the best cut we can get…and Dodd and friends will reap the benefits.

Criminal enterprise? Sure looks like it. Any federal prosecutors or district attorney out there with the nads to go after this one?

coldwarrior on March 30, 2009 at 10:25 AM

old trooper2 on March 30, 2009 at 10:22 AM

Democrats are in charge now = most ethical, transparent adminstration/Congress EVAH!

Therefore, nothing to see here.

Move along.

catmman on March 30, 2009 at 10:25 AM

Getalife appears to defend Dodd in 3,254,988,761…3,254,988,760…3,254,988,759…

Patrick S on March 30, 2009 at 10:25 AM

I thought we’d been over this. The FEC isn’t going to do anything. The Dems neutered them during the last election, and now they’re a good little Dem watchdog – not watching the Dems, of course.

They’re useless. We only have the press… damn.

Merovign on March 30, 2009 at 10:27 AM

Dodd needs to be brought before Congess in public hearings to answer under oath some pretty simple and basic questions.

That would be great except it’s getting harder and harder to find a member of Congress who isn’t corrupt himself to conduct such a hearing. I want a reset button.

scalleywag on March 30, 2009 at 10:27 AM

scalleywag on March 30, 2009 at 10:23 AM

Simply put, all that needs to happen to get them out is…vote.

Vote for someone else, vote for another party, vote for anyone but these morons

It’s a sad commentary that we complain about these crooks, yet they keep getting returned by their own citizens.

catmman on March 30, 2009 at 10:28 AM

Getalife appears to defend Dodd in 3,254,988,761…3,254,988,760…3,254,988,759…

Patrick S on March 30, 2009 at 10:25 AM

Oh, the troll bus will be along any minute now. I think they sleep till around noonish. :)

scalleywag on March 30, 2009 at 10:29 AM

Somehow or another, this has got to be Bush’s fault, and surely it has something to do with Iraq, Haliburton, blah blah blah

scottm on March 30, 2009 at 10:30 AM

So many ethics investigations against Gov. Palin…but none for the truly dirty politicians. Disgusting.

becki51758 on March 30, 2009 at 10:30 AM

catmman on March 30, 2009 at 10:28 AM

Oh I vote, and I vote, and I vote. But the same old vermin keeps marching back to their old office. It’s stunning. There ought to be an annual review once they’re elected. Just like us normal folks get. If you have a satisfactory rating, fine. If not, get out.

scalleywag on March 30, 2009 at 10:31 AM

The Democrats will never in a million years actually hold Dodd accountable for his ethics, but hopefully the voters of Connecticut will in 2010.

Looks like the door is open for Ned Lamont to challenge Dodd in the Democrat Primary. Lamont will be able to make this ethics stuff stick far better than a Republican could.

C’Mon Kossacks! Let’s get moving. Time to elect the Senator from Kos.

BTW, did you know that Dodd voted to authorize the use of force in Iraq?

gridlock2 on March 30, 2009 at 10:31 AM

If ANY Republican had done 1/10th of what Chris Dodd has done – he’d have been run out of Washington on a rail LONG AGO and the whole Republican Party would have been painted corrupt.

Instead – this guy gets a complete pass. There are so many Democratic scandals … Geithner, Dashcle, Frank, Dodd, Rangle, Murtha, Richardson, Blagojevich, Spitzer, Burris, Waters, Kennedy (yeah he still counts – he’s responsible for the DEATH of a woman).

I didn’t even get into the “marginal” stuff – like Nancy Pelosi Airlines or Harry Reid’s “Casino Express” Railroad.

This is getting sickening. How long does this go on?

HondaV65 on March 30, 2009 at 10:32 AM

This is excellent.

Now, when is the discussion going to turn to Richard Holbrooke, Obama’s current Middle East envoy, who was an AIG director from 2000 or 2001 through July 2008?

Seems to me, Holbrooke was longstanding presence on the 11-or-so member supposedly overseeing this mess. What did his directors fees get the organization and, ultimately, American taxpayers. Do we really want that kind of judgment wandering around the Middle East? I hope he’s a better envoy than he was a director.

BuckeyeSam on March 30, 2009 at 10:33 AM

How about a repeal of the 17th Amendment?

catmman on March 30, 2009 at 10:33 AM

Most ethical Congress ever………….

GarandFan on March 30, 2009 at 10:34 AM

scalleywag on March 30, 2009 at 10:31 AM

I’m with ‘ya brutha! It is frustrating. Just look at the voting for President. People don’t make informed voting decisions anymore, it’s simply a pander fest anymore.

We (collectively) get what ‘we’ pay for. Those of use who read, think, research, reason make informed choices are the ones who always get screwed…

catmman on March 30, 2009 at 10:36 AM

The FEC may want to look into this for another reason. Not only does this sound like a threat, but it could also have been a straw-man mechanism. Why did Cassano need copies of the checks? To ensure compliance, to be sure, but it could also have been to arrange reimbursements.

1. The FEC doesn’t want to look into this, as it would hurt their paymasters in the dem party. There is a reason that Bush appointees to it were stalled, and we are now learning that reason.
2. The reimbursements were made, see the legislation Dodd got passed. A different kind of reimbursement, but reimbursement all the same.

Vashta.Nerada on March 30, 2009 at 10:37 AM

Chris following directly in the footsteps of his father, Thomas Dodd, who was censured by the Senate…

How about some RICO charges for Mr. Dodd and his staff…

phreshone on March 30, 2009 at 10:38 AM

How about a repeal of the 17th Amendment?

catmman on March 30, 2009 at 10:33 AM

LONG overdue. But where in the world would you find support for that, except from the constituents.

scalleywag on March 30, 2009 at 10:38 AM

Dodd is just AIG’s stooge. Doesn’t everyone know this by now?

Dollayo on March 30, 2009 at 10:39 AM

Other than having a “D” in front of his name, how is Dodd any different than the rest of the human garbage holding elected offices?

repvoter on March 30, 2009 at 10:39 AM

Ok…for someone who doesn’t know the deep details of Congress: Is there no enforcement arm beyond some bullshiite “Ethics Committee” to hold these douchebags accountable?

We need someone like General Honore to have an office which does the investigating on Congressional crimes and ethics violations, someone outside the good ol’ boy network. Honore retired over a year ago, maybe he would be willing to come back and work for the people again?

Bishop on March 30, 2009 at 10:40 AM

This is getting sickening. How long does this go on?
HondaV65 on March 30, 2009 at 10:32 AM

Until a million armed but peaceful citizens gather on the D.C mall and collectively agree to not pay any more taxes until Congress brooms its criminals and provides crystal-clear transparency.

The government can steamroller a lone tax resister living in a shack somewhere, one million resisters, not so much.

Bishop on March 30, 2009 at 10:44 AM

Honore retired over a year ago, maybe he would be willing to come back and work for the people again?

Bishop on March 30, 2009 at 10:40 AM

Well there’s an idea. Something really needs to be done and we know for sure action isn’t coming from the party itself. The President himself got contributions from AIG, so as far as we know he’s just as guilty as the Dudd.

scalleywag on March 30, 2009 at 10:45 AM

scalleywag on March 30, 2009 at 10:38 AM

Good point.

Maybe the it could start with the constituents, make waves for the Govs to come on board and get the drumbeat going?

Unfortunately, most constituents probably don’t even know what the 17th Amendment is or that there was a different, more effective system in place before…

catmman on March 30, 2009 at 10:52 AM

Abolish term limits, I guess that’s the only way to stop these idiots. It’s not like they have ethics or morals and would step aside unless they were forced out. Funny, Obama can ask the CEO of GM to step down, but not members of his own organization. What a farce.

scalleywag on March 30, 2009 at 10:56 AM

Cassano did not need to get copies of the checks. He could have pulled the contributions right off the FEC website. Fact he should have. A facsimile of a check presented is not the same as a check cashed.

Dr. Dog on March 30, 2009 at 11:01 AM

I predict a “donation” scandal coming from his dealings with those CT casinos as well.

(and no, no links. . . yet?)

geckomon on March 30, 2009 at 11:04 AM

A body of men who holds themselves accountable to nobody ought not to be trusted by anybody–Thomas Paine

Obama is King George.

becki51758 on March 30, 2009 at 11:04 AM

Remember folks: Rob Simmons, (R) former CT 2 district House Rep, running to unseat The Seante’s Most Unscrupulous Hack (I know, that’s saying something these days) next year!

Please, the CT. State GOP is a bit of a mess (we pretty much all HAD TO vote for Lieberman in ’06, what’s that tell you?)right now, and needs support from the National Party.

Cash is good, but any help you can possibly lend us and the Simmons camp will be GREATLY appreciated.

Remember, Dodd’s not just bad for Connecticut. He’s bad for the entire nation. Help us help you by helping us get this turd out of office and, hopefully, into a long and unpleasent retirement full of indictments and hopefully, a short stretch in the pen.

SuperCool on March 30, 2009 at 11:05 AM

An honest politician is one who stays bought.

Obviously, Chris Dodd is not an honest politician.

tom on March 30, 2009 at 11:06 AM

canditaylor68 on March 30, 2009 at 10:19 AM

Right on the money!
I think this is the way business in Washington and everywhere else has been getting done for a long, long time. This isn’t “Chicago” politics,
this “is” politics.

elderberry on March 30, 2009 at 11:07 AM

I don’t want this guy to just lose his seat. I want him to be prosecuted.

Socmodfiscon on March 30, 2009 at 11:10 AM

Senator Christopher Dodd (D-Stalingrad)=Scumbag

Always has been.
Always will be

oldleprechaun on March 30, 2009 at 11:11 AM

I think this is the way business in Washington and everywhere else has been getting done for a long, long time. This isn’t “Chicago” politics,
this “is” politics.

elderberry on March 30, 2009 at 11:07 AM

Is this the “everyone does it” excuse?

Dollayo on March 30, 2009 at 11:13 AM

“except from the constituents” serfs

fixed it.

oldleprechaun on March 30, 2009 at 11:14 AM

If Dodd were a Republican even members of his own party would be calling for his resignation not just from his chair but from the Senate.

Combine this with him ensuring the people who gave him $160,000 still got their bonuses reeks of pay to play.

cadams on March 30, 2009 at 11:22 AM

Good thing the adults are in charge.

loudmouth883 on March 30, 2009 at 11:25 AM

Cassano did not need to get copies of the checks. He could have pulled the contributions right off the FEC website. Fact he should have. A facsimile of a check presented is not the same as a check cashed.

Dr. Dog on March 30, 2009 at 11:01 AM

And now we wonder how AIG went into the toilet.

BuckeyeSam on March 30, 2009 at 11:27 AM

It amazes me how anyone can defend this. It just sickens me, that now we would have to worry about keeping a job, if we don’t concede to the same politics of our bosses?

And Dodd knew about this. I have no doubts. He needs to go before Congress yes, but then again…they are his cronies, and protectors.

I always thought…Dodd reminds me of a bull frog. Now I’m composing a tune in my head, titled….Who Put The Bull in Bull Frog? Dodd Did. Dodd Did!!!

capejasmine on March 30, 2009 at 11:31 AM

Dollayo on March 30, 2009 at 11:13 AM

Absolutely not.
This is the “what a sad state of affairs our political system is coming to”
post.

elderberry on March 30, 2009 at 11:35 AM

I’ve said this for years: why do people and organizations buy or attempt to buy influence in Washington? because there is influence to be bought! If Article 1, section 8 and the 10th Amendment and their Oath of Office were adhered to, there would be NO influence to be bought.
Case closed.

Amendment X on March 30, 2009 at 11:41 AM

because there is influence to be bought!

Bingo! What are the consequences for violating the amendments and their oath of office? Is Obama going to look into these accusations? Doubtful. Will Pelosi? That’s a joke in and of itself. People have been griping about these lowlifes for years now, but nothing ever happens. We don’t need to wait to vote them out, we need to throw them out.

scalleywag on March 30, 2009 at 11:46 AM

The adultsculture of corruption is in charge now. All is well.

Del Dolemonte on March 30, 2009 at 11:52 AM

Dodd has no shame. He is gearing up for a run in 2010. And yet we hear nothing about picketing at his offices or home. If he was a Republican, ACORN would be there in force.

amr on March 30, 2009 at 11:54 AM

It seems like everyday I see another story about some congressman taking a truckload of cash from a bailout company and “The Obama” never complains unless it is the AIG Executive Bonuses. And everytime that Congressman is on this short list.

Barney Frank
Chris Dodd

Odd….

jeffn21 on March 30, 2009 at 11:58 AM

This guy and his “financial lover” B.F. are both at the top of the crap weasel list. They all need to go…. and soon.

HomeoftheBrave on March 30, 2009 at 12:02 PM

I knew Cassano was a scumbag, but I didn’t know it was this bad. He gave the max to Obama, too.

juliesa on March 30, 2009 at 12:03 PM

The only way we are going to get this corruption out of the government is a constitutional amendment for term limits.

These guys are in so long they have too much power and there is no way to figure out what is going on. With new folks every decade or less you have a natural check and balance on corrupt individuals like Dodd and Frank.

But it doesn’t work if the states do it individually because then some states have so much power than others with the senior leadership of the Congress. It has to be Nation wide.

You’d have to give the Dems something to get them to vote for it because they wouldn’t want to give up power but I like the idea of adding a rep for DC as an inducement in blue states.

I’m sure there’s a down side. But how could it be worse than this?

petunia on March 30, 2009 at 12:15 PM

Cassano did not need to get copies of the checks. He could have pulled the contributions right off the FEC website. Fact he should have. A facsimile of a check presented is not the same as a check cashed.

Ah but the purpose was to compell his employees to donate not to simply know who is on board with him. This is criminal.

Hochmeister on March 30, 2009 at 12:48 PM

Pardonme but there is a way to do away with this nonsense but then it has to come from the legislators, fat chance, or a ground swell of the populace.

“No politician can receive a campaign donation or any other contribution, monetary or otherwise, from any person or entity that can not vote for the politician. This eliminates contributions from businesses, lobbyist, unions, PAC’s, out of state persons and out of jurisdiction persons.”

Make sense? That only those able to vote for the person can donate to that person seems so logical and realistic that it will never gain traction but I would like to see someone look into this.

Pardonme on March 30, 2009 at 12:50 PM

Yeah, Dodd, Frank, Conrad, Murtha… long list of the “most ethical Congress ever”, according to Botox Pelosi. How anyone could actually listen to a Democrat say anything about ethics and not burst into laughter is beyond me.

Webrider on March 30, 2009 at 12:57 PM

This is what ethical democrats look like.

darktood on March 30, 2009 at 1:37 PM

Folks, it’s time for us to realize that we all live in a Banana Republic. Only way to correct this is to install penalty of death for this level of corruption.

This reminds me of the film “Demolition Man” where the character Phoenix finally ordered the execution of of the “beloved” Dr. Cokto after trying repeatedly to kill him but could not because of psych programing. The voters are the programmed so who will step up and do the job so to speak?

larvcom on March 30, 2009 at 1:49 PM

Wouldn’t it be great if Chris Dodd was voted out of office and criminally held accountable for his role in the economic collapse of this country and the resulting harm done to millions of Americans…………..?

Seven Percent Solution on March 30, 2009 at 3:34 PM

Why isn’t Christopher Dodd in jail?

kens on March 30, 2009 at 11:12 PM