The Sen. Christopher Dodd re-election campaign collected $162,100 from AIG employees and their spouses soon after they had received an e-mail pleading for donations to the Connecticut Democrat from Joseph Cassano, AIG Financial Products chief executive, according to a report in the Washington Times.
That Nov. 2006 e-mail touted Dodd as “next in line” to be chairman of the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee, which oversees the insurance industry.
“As he considers running for president in 2008, Senator Dodd has asked us for our support with his reelection campaign and we have offered to be supportive,” Cassano wrote in the e-mail.
Dodd recently admitted that at the request of Treasury officials he added a provision into legislation in Feb. 2009 that authorized $218 million in controversial bonuses to selected AIG executives – while the company was receiving billions of dollars in assistance from the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP).
All told, Dodd has collected $238,418 from AIG employees and their spouses, according to the Center for Responsive Politics and the Washington Times report. Cassano, personally, has donated $7,118 to Dodd’s campaigns.
“Let me be clear: I was completely unaware of these AIG bonuses until I learned of them last week,” Dodd explained to CNN recently. “I agreed reluctantly. I was changing the amendment because others were insistent.”
Dodd spokesman Bryan DeAngelis said in a statement: “Senator Dodd´s fundraising has always been above board, transparent and in accordance with campaign finance rules.
“As he said, contributions received from any individual who accepted these bonuses from AIG last week will be donated to charity. And last fall, he made the decision to no longer accept contributions from [political action committees] of companies receiving TARP money.”
But such damage control may be too little too late.
A Quinnipiac University poll showed Dodd 43 percent to 42 percent behind former U.S. Rep. Rob Simmons, a Republican who plans to challenge Dodd.
Meanwhile, watchdog groups charge that having AIG employees as one of Dodd’s largest donor bases lessens his committee’s objectiveness in its oversight duties.
For Dodd it’s the issue that simply will not go away. Just a couple of weeks ago, he was defending his wife’s involvement with the beleaguered insurance giant.
According to a report in RealClearPolitics.com, Jackie Clegg Dodd worked as an outside director from 2001 to 2004 for a Bermuda-based company affiliated with AIG — IPC Holdings Ltd.
In 2003, Clegg received $12,000 per year and an additional $1,000 for each IPC directors and committee meeting she attended, according to a proxy statement. Clegg served on the audit and investment committees during her final year on the board.
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