TARP Recipients Paid $114 Million to Candidates and Lobbyists

Friday, February 06, 2009
Investing in Politicians

The struggling companies whose unrestricted business practices have contributed to the country's economic crisis are getting an impressive return on at least one of their investments.

The nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics has found that, in the past year, beneficiaries of the $700 billion bailout package in the finance and automotive industries have spent a total of $114.2 million on lobbying and contributions toward the 2008 election. These companies’ political investments have yielded them $295.2 billion from the federal government's Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), an extraordinary return of 258,449 percent.
Some of the top recipients of contributions from companies receiving TARP money are the same members of Congress charged with regulating the financial sector and overseeing the bailout program. In total, during the 2007-2008 election cycle, members of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, Senate Finance Committee and House Financial Services Committee received $5.2 million from TARP recipients. President Obama collected at least $4.3 million from employees at these companies for his presidential campaign.
The companies who gave the most to fund lawmakers’ campaigns and spent the most on lobbying efforts were also those that received the most TARP money. General Motors spent $15 million between campaign contributions and lobbying expenditures and got $10.4 billion. Bank of America (and the investment company it bought last year, Merrill Lynch) spent $14.5 million and received $45 billion from the bailout bill. Citigroup spent $12.5 million and was paid out $50 billion. American International Group (AIG) spent $10.6 million and got $40 billion.
However the most lucrative returns were earned by smaller spenders. The PNC Financial Services Group  spent $68,525 on campaign contributions and received $7.6 billion in TARP payment; yielding an astonishing 11,060,389% return on investment. Synovus Financial Corp. donated just $10,150 in contributions and got $968 million, a comfortable 9,535,565% return on investment.


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