AIG, You Still Don’t Get It

Those folks at AIG are at it again.

You remember AIG. In September, the U.S. government gave AIG an $85 billion loan to stablize the financially troubled insurance company. Then on Monday, the government modified the terms of the deal to throw in another $65 billion to the original loan, plus they purchased an additional $40 billion in preferred stock. According to CNN, the taxpayers now own 80 percent of the company.

Then, after receiving the government rescue package, the company came under tremendous criticism for holding several lavish retreats for employees, including one at the St. Regis Resort and Spa in Monarch Beach, Calif., another at a manor house in Dorset, England where they held a partridge hunt

Well, now the AIG execs are hanging out at the Pointe Hilton Squaw Peak Resort in Phoenix, where they held junket that cost $343,000. As for AIG, they point out that they didn’t foot the entire bill for the event, they only paid for $23,000 of the event. The remainder was paid by the group of 150 independent insurance brokers attending the event.

So that makes it ok, right?

Don’t they recognize their corporate reputation is already in tatters? What in the world made the event’s organizers believe this was appropriate? It’s all about the optics. Do they believe that the public would stand for the leadership of the Pentagon holding a meeting at this resort? What would the media say if the leadership of the Department of Interior gathered there?

AIG should take a look at the GSA’s list of per diem rates for 2008. They show that the maximum a Federal employee is allowed to spend in Phoenix is $122 for lodging and $59 a day for meals and expenses. Rooms and food at the Pointe Hilton Squaw Peak Resort go for quite a bit more than this. See for yourself.

According to ABC News, AIG confirmed reports that they did not want AIG’s name to be listed on event signage at the Pointe Hilton. “We’re trying to avoid confrontation, keep our profile low,” said AIG spokesman Nicholas Ashooh. “Some of our employees have been harassed.”

I don’t about you, but wouldn’t it be easier just to stop holding these events rather than try to hide them or justify them after a TV crew confronts your executives over the matter?

I honestly don’t have a problem if private corporations want to throw fancy parties for their customers or employees. But AIG should recognize that once it took money from the government to clean up the mess they made, they should start acting like the government when it comes to spending tax dollars.


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