Bailed Out Banks Give to Pols’ Favorite Charities
Charitable giving is a time-honored strategy for turning money into influence. If you don’t want to give money to a politician’s PAC, try making a contribution to his or her favorite charity. Charitable donations are harder to trace than political contributions and they have the added bonus of burnishing the reputations of both the donor and the recipient.
That lesson has not been lost on the bailed out banks, The Hill reports today:
Financial firms and other companies receiving billions of dollars in federal bailout money spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to pay for meetings and charitable gifts on behalf of lawmakers.
In the last six months of 2008, as a financial crisis enveloped the country and lawmakers voted on a $700 billion financial rescue package, eight companies that would benefit from that package spent roughly $366,000 on events and charities connected to members of Congress, according to a review of congressional lobbying records.
If you and I want to give a charitable donation, we usually write a check. Corporate America does us one better by throwing lavish charity events and inviting the very lawmakers they seek to influence. Bank of America, Citigroup, and Goldman Sachs kicked in tens of thousands of dollars each to a gala sponsored by the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange at which Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) was the keynote speaker, according to the Hill.
Frank is the chair of the powerful House Financial Services Committee and a key architect of the bank bailout, which had given billions to Bank of America, Citi, and Goldman just weeks before the party.
High-minded philanthropy, will only get you so far, though. ABC News reports that Bank of America also shelled out millions for a five-day Super Bowl party last week. The bank defended the outlay as a legitimate business expense, and part of its “growth strategy.”