WSJ: Lew's Citigroup Deal Indicative of Wall Street's 'Turnstile' for Democratic Elite

Monday, 25 Feb 2013 11:34 AM

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Treasury Secretary-nominee Jacob Lew had a contract guaranteeing that he could keep a bonus from Citigroup if he left for a senior government job, it was revealed on Monday.

The unusual arrangement meant that Lew kept the cash when he quit his post as chief operating officer of the finance giant’s alternative investments unit to become deputy secretary of state in 2009, The Wall Street Journal writes in an editorial.

“The story is how Wall Street has become a get-rich-turnstile for Democratic political operatives,” a Wall Street Journal editorial states. “Most companies include incentives for top employees not to leave, but in this case the contract was written to reward Mr. Lew for treating the bank like a revolving door.”

Citigroup says it likes to make it easy for employees to do public service work or help at nonprofits. “But the Lew contract was specific about a senior job in the federal government,” Journal editors write. “There would be no special payout if he left to run the Red Cross or the New York state budget office.”

Several former Democratic officials have ended up at Citigroup, including former White House budget director Peter Orszag, who is now a vice chairman at Citi, and former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin, who was chairman.

“Mr. Lew’s contract suggests that Citi knew from the start that Mr. Lew was headed back to a powerful job in Washington, and that it wanted him to remember the bank fondly when he left,” the editorial says.

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