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DeMint-Vitter letter to be sent this morning.

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Senators Demand Probe of AIG Bonus Legislation

DeMint-Vitter letter to be sent this morning.

Sens. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) and David Vitter (R-La.) will later this morning send a letter to Senate Banking Committee leaders demanding that they subpoena all records of bailed-out insurance giant AIG to find out how AIG executive bonuses were given unique and privileged treatment in the Obama stimulus bill.

According to a draft of the letter HUMAN EVENTS received last night, DeMint and Vitter say, “…the Senate Banking Committee must subpoena the relevant AIG contracts as well as any other documents that will help determine:

(1) What legal obligations did in fact exist to pay these bonuses;

(2) What awareness did then Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, then President of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York Timothy Geithner, and Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke have of these contracts when any of the government interventions in the company were contemplated; and

(3) Why was language inserted into H.R. 1, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, that seems to specifically exempt these AIG bonuses from executive compensation limits? [on page 404 of H.R. 1, D(iii): The prohibition required under clause (i) shall not be construed to prohibit any bonus payment required to be paid pursuant to a written employment contract executed on or before February 11, 2009, as such valid employment contracts are determined by the Secretary or the designee of the Secretary.]”

The last section apparently is aimed at the Banking Committee Chairman, Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) who authored the provision under which the AIG bonuses were exempted from the “stimulus” bill’s limits on executive compensation. Dodd yesterday admitted that he had authored a provision relating to the AIG bonuses but insisted that the provision he had authored was changed to produce the result of allowing the AIG bonuses.

How can the Chairman of the Senate Banking Committee not know what is being done with a piece of legislation he authored? If not him, who is responsible?

Edward Liddy, AIG chief executive officer, writes in a Washington Post op-ed published today that AIG ended its Washington lobbying activities when the bailout was made.

The investigation that the DeMint-Vitter letter demands could blow the lid off AIG’s close involvement with several Democratic lawmakers, especially Dodd himself, who was reportedly the recipient of AIG’s largest campaign contribution in the last election cycle, over $103,000.

More Bonus Outrage for the TV Cameras

The President and Congressional lawmakers rushed before cameras yesterday to feign outrage over something they’d likely known about since last year but certainly had known for at least a month: AIG Financial Products executives were contractually due a payment of $165 million in bonuses from American taxpayer bailout money. Dodd led the wolf pack with his unsettling and unprecedented proposal to tax the money at a rate of up to 100%. Yet it was Dodd himself who dropped an amendment onto the Democrats’ $1.2 trillion “stimulus” bill passed by Democrats and signed into law by President Obama that authorized the very AIG bonuses Democrats are now frantic to recoup. The high-profile Dodd amendment placed a cap on executive salaries with an “exception for contractually obligated bonuses agreed on before Feb. 11, 2009,” which specifically exempted these AIG bonuses from the executive compensation rules authored by Dodd.

One of AIG’s largest Financial Products offices is located in Dodd’s home state of Connecticut. President Obama runs a close second to Dodd having received $101,332 in campaign contributions from AIG, according to OpenSecrets.org. As confusing as that appears on the surface, the picture comes more into focus when you note that Dodd is the single recipient of the largest amount of campaign cash from AIG in the 2008 election cycle having received $103,100 in contributions

Suddenly desiring to shun the klieg lights, Dodd told a Fox News reporter off camera that he did not put that language into his own amendment, it must have happened later in conference. Yet a contemporaneous report from Politico in February reports on the Dodd amendment passage and specifically notes the exemption Dodd claims he didn’t know was in his own amendment:

“The new rules, introduced by Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) mark one of the major concessions Obama made in the last days of wrangling over the stimulus package he is expected to sign into law on Tuesday in Denver. … Additionally, the rules in the stimulus bill apply not only to companies that receive bailout funds in the future, but also to those that have received TARP money in the past — although executive bonuses doled out in contracts signed before February 11 would not be impacted.”

Not a peep from Dodd or his staff at the time objecting to or asking for a retraction for any of the amendment language or information in this high-profile, cap on executive legislation story. Further, any sort of suggestion that this was done without the knowledge of Democrat leadership or the White House is belied by that news story. No Republicans were allowed to participate in earnest in the “conference” process for the “stimulus” bill. The entire process was secreted by Democrat leadership and the White House, paraded before cameras with the House Republicans sitting at the “conference” table for a photo-op, and followed by Speaker Pelosi shoving it through the full House for a majority vote. No Republicans voted in favor of the legislation. None other than Democrat leadership had been given the time to actually read the bill — not Republicans, not the public. The Democrats own this scandal outright.

National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) spokesman Brian Walsh told HUMAN EVENTS last night, “It’s completely disingenuous of Senator Dodd to suggest that he is now leading the fight to protect taxpayer money from going towards AIG bonuses when it was his own amendment to the stimulus bill last month that allowed AIG executives to receive these bonuses in the first place. It’s even more disingenuous when you consider that Senator Dodd has received more political contributions from AIG than any other member of Congress. His rhetoric this week, which only came after the public was informed of what was going on, is typical Washington doublespeak and taxpayers deserve better from their public servants.”

On Tuesday, House Republican leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) expressed outrage over the AIG bonuses and White House claims of prudent oversight as they reamed taxpayers for another $30 billion for AIG. “Two weeks ago, the president’s spokesman said that they were confident that they knew how every dime was being spent at AIG,” Boehner said. “Well clearly, they didn’t know what they were talking about.”

Or did they?

House Committee on Ways and Means ranking member Dave Camp (R-Mich.) said, “I don’t know what’s more appalling: AIG’s decision or the choice by some in Congress to sneak a provision into the stimulus bill that protects these kinds of bonuses.”

Rep. John Carter (R-Texas), a former Texas judge and current secretary of the House Republican Conference, has led in demanding accountability and transparency from his peers, primarily serial tax evaders and most notably Rep. Charlie Rangel (R-N.Y.), chairman of the very committee that writes tax law: Ways and Means. Carter told HUMAN EVENTS last night, “The American people need to know that the Democratic leadership that is controlling the House and Senate is doing so in an honest and open manner. That’s why we are asking that these ethics issues be resolved.”

ACORN to Play Role in 2010 Census

The scenario we reported as likely back in February has now come to fruition. White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel’s census power grab now includes the U.S. Census Bureau working with ACORN, the organization under investigation for voter fraud and voter registration fraud in states across the country. ACORN is assisting the Census Bureau in recruiting 1.4 million workers responsible for taking the 2010 census. This decennial census will determine the population numbers by which Congressional seats are allotted to each state. (For details, please follow the link above to the February story.)

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Connie Hair writes a weekly column for HUMAN EVENTS. She is a former speechwriter for Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.).

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