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AIG’s Campaign Contributions

We’ve been following the travails of former insurance giant AIG since its sudden transformation from a corporate titan to state-run company in mid-September.

First we reported that the company was still lobbying, despite now being 80 percent government-owned.

Then we wrote about what it was lobbying for. The company was pushing legislators to back away from tighter regulations of the mortgage market – regulations designed to avoid the problems that have led to the current financial mess. The Senate then rapped the company over the knuckles for that cheekiness and told them to quit their lobbying. We also found out that AIG had been lobbying on a surprising range of issues – such as a nuclear treaty with India.

Given its determination to continue currying favor with lawmakers, we wondered what AIG was – and more importantly, still is – doing to influence Capitol Hill.

First, we checked campaign contributions that AIG employees had made following the bailout. We found that the majority went to Barack Obama. The amount was relatively small – a total of just under $19,000 up till October 15, which is the most recent data available.

Employees gave a paltry $250 to McCain’s campaign, which could be a sign of anything from their political affiliation to their beliefs about who is likely to win the election. (There’s no law against public employees giving political contributions, according to Fred Wertheimer of pro-democracy group Democracy 21.)

Next, we poked around to see whom their lobbyists (now former lobbyists) had been giving to.

The most recent data for that only gets us to the end of September, but we couldn’t find donations made after the bailout.

Interestingly, through 2007 and this year, AIG’s lobbyists heavily favored the Republicans over the Democrats. They gave $217,000 to Republicans, almost exactly $100,000 more than they gave to Democrats.

John McCain and his campaign were the top recipients, with almost $21,000.

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