Reuters: Exclusive: AIG Boosting Washington Lobbying Efforts as Hiatus Prompted by Crisis Ends

The following is an excellent article from the Reuters website written by Douwe Miedema on August 15, 2014 titled “Exclusive: AIG Boosting Washington Lobbying Effort as Hiatus Prompted by Crisis Ends” and I quote:

“Exclusive: AIG boosting Washington lobbying effort as hiatus prompted by crisis ends”

WASHINGTON Fri Aug 15, 2014 4:06pm EDT

A banner for American International Group Inc (AIG) hangs on the facade of the New York Stock Exchange, Ocotber 16, 2012. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

A banner for American International Group Inc (AIG) hangs on the facade of the New York Stock Exchange, Ocotber 16, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Brendan McDermid

 
 

(Reuters) – Insurer American International Group (AIG.N) is ramping up its lobbying team in Washington, almost six years after it halted such efforts following its rescue by the U.S. government during the financial crisis.

Many large companies deploy a handful of staff to provide access to Capitol Hill and the White House, but AIG has employed no officially registered lobbyists since 2009. Some of its government relations positions in Washington, which companies typically use to influence policymaking by regulators and other government officials, have been left vacant.

Yet in May of this year, Lauren Scott started working as AIG’s director for international regulatory and government affairs in Washington, according to her LinkedIn profile. She was previously a director of international and insurance regulation at the American Council of Life Insurers, a trade group.

That follows the arrival in February of Mary Frances Monroe – a former Federal Reserve supervisor who worked for a Washington consultancy firm – as AIG’s head of international regulatory in February, also according to LinkedIn.

Scott and Monroe did not respond to requests for comment. AIG declined to comment.

The lobbying build-up comes at a critical time for the insurer, which has been subject to new supervision by the Federal Reserve after it was designated as a “systemically important” firm by a top U.S. regulatory panel.

It is not clear whether the two will officially register as lobbyists, something that anyone spending more than 20 percent of their working hours on influencing senior U.S. policymakers needs to do. It is also unclear how much of their work is domestic, and how much focused on international lobbying.

Monroe worked as a registered lobbyist in a previous position, but Scott did not, according to official records.

The company said in October 2008 it would stop lobbying. It had faced public criticism when it continued to spend heavily to influence lawmakers despite receiving a $182 billion bailout that gave the government a majority stake, and because it continued to pay staff big bonuses.

The company, which says it has customers in more than 130 countries and jurisdictions, almost collapsed when a little-known London unit, AIG Financial Products, racked up colossal losses through complex derivative transactions it had engaged in.

But it is now slowly returning to normal, and has repaid the bailout funds to the government.

AIG’s shares still linger at a fraction of where they were before the crisis, but it has resolved litigation and streamlined the business, and the company’s second-quarter profit beat expectations earlier this month.   

The Financial Stability Oversight Council, which brings together all the key U.S. financial regulators and is chaired by Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, has designated AIG and one other insurer, Prudential (PRU.N), as systemically important, and is considering doing the same with MetLife Inc (MET.N).

While AIG did not fight its designation, the insurance industry is trying to convince Congress to ease a provision in the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform law that applies strict bank capital standards to “systemically important” insurers. They argue the bank-specific approach is a bad fit for insurers’ distinct business model.

 

RAMPING UP

AIG spent $11 million on lobbying Congress in both 2007 and 2008 – putting it among top spenders of that period, along with other major companies such as General Electric (GE.N) and Exxon Mobil (XOM.N) – but it quickly pulled back after that, and it did not spend at all in either 2010 or 2011, official records show.

In 2012, it started spending again — paying $120,000 for the services of law firm Patton Boggs when AIG was selling a majority stake in one of its units.

In 2013, it spent $140,000, and so far this year $80,000 with the same firm, now called Squire Patton Boggs, or with Ernst & Young, according to the Senate lobbying database.

Its Political Action Committee, or PAC – a fund to donate to election campaigns – donated $337,358 in 2008, with politicians on both sides of the aisle benefiting, but the organization has been dormant after 2010.

However, AIG in a recent job advertisement was looking to hire someone to perform “day-to-day AIG PAC activities”, to coordinate with fundraising committees for candidates, and to “assist with planning AIG PAC events” – a sign that it may be planning to make political donations again.

(Reporting by Douwe Miedema, additional reporting by Sarah Lynch; Editing by Karey Van Hall and Martin Howell)”

[IT’S TOO BAD PRESIDENT OBAMA WASN’T MORE LIKE FRANKLIN DELANO ROOSEVELT WHEN HE CLOSED THE BANKS DOWN FOR ONE WEEK AND THEN CLEANED HOUSE AND REOPENED THEM A WEEK LATER WHERE THE PEOPLE GAINED CONFIDENCE AND STARTED PUTTING THEIR MONEY BACK INTO THE BANKS.  THE WAY CAPITALISM IS WORKING NOW, WE’LL PROBABLY END UP WITH THE SAME KIND OF COMPLETE BREAKDOWN.  THE 2016 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES MUST TALK ABOUT THIS PROBLEM, IS THE ECONOMY GOES THAT LONG.

LaVern Isely, Overtaxed Independent Middle Class Taxpayer and Public Citizen and AARP Members

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About tim074

I'm a retired dairy farmer that was a member of the National Farmer's Organization (NFO). Before going farming, I spent 4 years in the United States Air Force where I saved up enough money to get my down payment to go farming. I also enjoy writing and reading biographies and I write about myself as well as articles and excerpts I find interesting. I'm specifically interested in finances, particularly in the banking industry because if it wasn't for help from my local Community Bank, I never could have started farming which I was successful at. So, I'm real interested in the Small Business Administration and I know they are the ones creating jobs. I have been a member of Common Cause and am now a member of Public Citizen as well as AARP. I have, in the past, written over 150 articles on the Obama Blog (my.barackobama.com) and I'd like to tie these two sites together. I'm also on Twitter, MySpace and Facebook and find these outlets terrifically interesting particularly what many of these people did concerning the uprising in the Arab world. I believe this is a smaller world than we think it is and my goal is to try to bring people together to live in peace because management needs labor like labor needs management. Up to now, that hasn't been so easy to find.
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