A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

AIG Campaign Donations


Q: Did AIG give $100,000 to Obama?

A: AIG employees gave $104,332 to Obama during the 2008 campaign, the most to any candidate. They also gave heavily to McCain, who was third on their list.

FULL QUESTION

I’ve heard the claim (by conservatives on Drudge, and elsewhere) that Obama received over 100k dollars from AIG as a sort of kickback for their continued bailout. I have no idea whether to believe these reports, and believe you are probably in a better position to corroborate them.

FULL ANSWER

American International Group and its affiliates don’t rank especially high among sources of political donation. AIG comes in 79th on the list of "Top All-Time Donors" over the last 20 years, as tabulated by the Center for Responsive Politics. Since 1989 its donations have been split about 50-50 between Democrats and Republicans.

During the 2008 election, presidential candidate Barack Obama received more than any other federal candidate, a total of $104,332, according to CRP’s tabulation. Senate Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd, a Democrat, received the second-highest amount, $103,900. And Sen. John McCain, the Republican presidential nominee, received the third highest amount, $59,499. (These are donations from individual employees of the company or its political action committee, not donations from the company itself.)

Was Obama’s money a "kickback" as our questioner suggests? Readers will of course draw their own conclusions, but we see no evidence of undue influence here. For one thing, the AIG bailout was engineered by the Federal Reserve and the Bush administration in September of last year, weeks before Obama was elected. For another, AIG doesn’t come close to making the list of Obama’s top 20 supporters. Employees of the U.S. government gave him more than four times the amount donated by employees of AIG, for example.

And for what it’s worth, President George W. Bush got $160,160 from AIG in 2004, more than Obama got in 2008.

-Brooks Jackson

Sources

OpenSecrets.org. Campaign contributions. Center for Responsive Politics, accessed 19 March 2009.