Journalists Attack AIG for Doing Business

Businesses hold conferences at “luxury resorts” because they need to entice people to attend. It’s simply ludicrous to talk about holding a conference at the cheapest hotel one can find in the lowest-cost feography one can think of–such a conference would fail miserably and whatever money was spent would be wasted. 

Thus, this story about the alleged “junket” perpetrated by AIG executives is just the sort of lynching we can expect from now on. Government intervention causes horrific economic dislocations, then politicians swoop in to “rescue” the industry by essentially forcing company officers to take “bailout” money, and then those same officers are held under a microscope for every ridiculous populist claim against them. It’s class warfare on a level even worse than that being conducted against executive pay.

Consider the lead paragraph:

Even as the company was pleading the federal government for another $40 billion dollars in loans, AIG sent top executives to a secret gathering at a luxury resort in Phoenix last week.

It was a “secret,” so the story says, because the AIG logos weren’t prominently displayed. Here’s the reason:

A company spokesperson, Nick Ashooh, confirmed AIG instructed the hotel to make sure there were no AIG signs or mention of the company by staff.


“We’re trying to avoid confrontation, keep our profile low,” said Ashooh. “Some of our employees have been harassed.”

Not only is that reasonable, it’s responsible. Here’s more:

AIG came under fire last month when Congressional investigators revealed its executives attended a seminar for independent insurance agents at another luxury resort, in Southern California.


The AIG spokesman said the meeting in Phoenix was for independent financial advisors and “was the kind of thing we have to do to run our business.”


Company officials confirmed the company spent an estimated $343,000 to sponsor the 2008 Asset Management Conference. A spokesperson said much of the cost would be recouped from product sponsors at the conference. [Emphasis added.]

And then, the clincher that repudiates the entire story:

The AIG spokesman said the Casita suite was provided for free by the hotel because it had booked so many rooms.

It’s ugly enough already without irresponsible “journalists” writing such hit pieces.

Update: Unsurprisingly, a Democratic Congressman has joined in on the action:

In his letter, [Congressman Elijah Cummings (D-Md.)] questioned how the Phoenix event could have taken place given Liddy’s earlier assurances that “not one cent of taxpayer dollars” would by used to pay for such events. The decision to hold the event while AIG was asking for billions of dollars more in federal loans was “even more shocking”, wrote Cummings.

“Having received this assistance, which has been nothing less than a lifeline for AIG, you have decided to continue to hold corporate parties as if nothing has fundamentally changed with your business.”

This wasn’t a party, Congressman. But, I’m not surprised that you’ve swooped in for the kill, now that you’ve succeeded in taking such power over an American business. And, it looks like you plan to make good use of it:

Cummings asked Liddy to provide him with details on who the sponsors were and how much money they were providing, as well as an itemized list of expenses incurred by AIG.

Remember, this inquisition is over a conference, a mainstay of business that’s used for promotional and educational purposes that are vital to a company’s long-term success. However, one can’t expect a power-hungry Leftist to understand such trivial business considerations.

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