Money and Democracy

Published — March 30, 2009 Updated — May 19, 2014 at 12:19 pm ET

Obama top recipient of AIG’s hefty campaign contributions


The American International Group, more commonly known as AIG, has become the poster child for the financial bailout. The company has received $170 billion from the Treasury Department and Federal Reserve since September 2008, and recently landed in a world of hurt when it was revealed that some $165 million of that money was given as bonuses to its employees — many of whom worked in the insurance giant’s financial arm.

As AIG CEO Edward Liddy told a House Financial Services subcommittee earlier this month, “The payment of large bonuses to people in the very unit that caused so much of AIG’s financial trouble does not sit well with the American taxpayer, and for very good reason.”

The company also came under fire when legislators and the public learned that $58 billion of the bailout money given to AIG was handed over to foreign banks, as payment on the credit default swaps contracts.

Politicians and the news media have expressed outrage about the money the company has given to foreign banks and its own workers. But there’s been considerably less scrutiny of the money AIG has given to elected officials.

Between 1993 and 2008, AIG contributed $8,526,940, according to data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics. In the 2008 election cycle, as the company was nearing the precipice of its dramatic fall, it gave $854,905 to 100 different candidates. Most received donations of $3,000 or less, but those at the top of the donation heap got substantially more than that.

Barack Obama, the top recipient in the 2008 election cycle, collected more than $100,000 from AIG. Six other presidential candidates are among the top ten for the 2008 cycle: Chris Dodd, Hillary Clinton, John McCain, Mitt Romney, Joseph Biden, and Rudy Giuliani. Dodd, of course, is the chair of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, now overseeing the re-regulation of the financial system and the bailout itself.

Top Recipients of AIG Contributions, 2008 Election Cycle

1. Obama, Barack (D-IL) — $104,332

2. Dodd, Chris (D-CT) — $103,900

3. McCain, John (R-AZ) — $59,499

4. Clinton, Hillary (D-NY) — $37,965

5. Baucus, Max (D-MT) — $24,750

6. Romney, Mitt (R-MA) — $20,850

7. Biden, Joseph R. Jr (D-DE) — $19,975

8. Larson, John B. (D-CT) — $19,750

9. Sununu, John E. (R-NH) — $18,500

10. Giuliani, Rudolph W. (R-NY) — $13,200

Source: Center for Responsive Politics.

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