Tell AIG: Pay It Back

Common Cause is asking its 400,000 members and supporters to sign an open letter to the head of American International Group (AIG), demanding that AIG executives return the $165 million in bonuses received last week and any additional money from the $450 million they were slated to receive this year, and that CEO Edward Liddy answer questions.

“AIG wrote trillions of dollars in bad insurance contracts, but their managers aren’t being fired — they’re being rewarded instead,” Arn Pearson, Common Cause vice president for programs, wrote in an alert to members. “That’s right, the same people who helped engineer the financial crisis — advocating risky, irresponsible insurance practices — are about to come out ahead.”

As Liddy testifies on Capitol Hill today, the questions to him include:

Mr. Liddy, your company is arguably the worst performing company in history. It continues to be in business thanks only to the unprecedented generosity of the federal government. How could the senior management possibly deserve performance bonuses?

In your letter to Secretary Geithner, you say that the company is contractually obligated to pay these bonuses and that it could face lawsuits if it does not. Yet in a much smaller bailout of the auto industry, auto workers were forced to renegotiate their contracts. Clearly, renegotiating the contracts of your senior managers and removing the bonuses would be possible – so how can you justify keeping the bonuses, particularly in light of this apparent double standard for blue collar workers versus Wall Street money managers?

Do you think that any of the senior management at AIG owes the taxpayers of this country something for giving them a job and a paycheck? Especially when our economy is losing half a million jobs a month?

Do you think it is appropriate to retain the same managers who decided to make such risky investments that almost any reasonable person could tell was beyond the capacity of the company to afford? Why isn’t the company firing these managers instead of giving them bonuses?

Eleven of the people who received “retention” bonuses of $1 million or more don’t work for AIG any longer. How can you explain that?

Click here to view the open letter to Liddy.