The Washington Times notes today that many of the recipients of federal bailout funds are also major political donors:
Many of the large American companies that received billions of taxpayer bailout dollars by pleading that they didn't have enough money to lend to customers were, at the same time, spending millions of dollars dispatching lobbyists to influence the federal government.
A Washington Times review of lobbying disclosure reports found that 18 of the top 20 recipients of federal bailout money spent a combined $12.2 million lobbying the White House, the Treasury Department, Congress and federal agencies during the last quarter of 2008.
For instance, the government bought $3.4 billion in American Express Co. stock on Jan. 9 as part of an aid package. In the last quarter of 2008, the company spent more than $1 million on federal lobbying.
The print version of the story also included a chart that listed all of the lobbying expenditures by TARP recipients, but I don't see that chart in the on-line story. General Motors spent about $6 million in lobbying funds over the last two quarters of 2008. Although that seems like a lot of money, it is a drop in bucket compared to the payback that they have received.
BB&T were notable (as is often the case) on the chart because they made no lobbying expenditures (and my impression from what I've read is that they apparently were a bank that was strong-armed into taking TARP funds even though they didn't want them).
Meanwhile, the President of Merrill Lynch has been fired from his position at Bank of America as it has been reported that he accelerated "year-end" executive bonuses to get them paid out before the B of A merger became final--and subsequent request for government TARP funds. He also spent $1.2 million to redecorate his office last year. It really does make me wonder sometimes how these guys can sleep at night.
Once the pork-barrel stimulus plan is finalized I expect we'll see a whole new interesting chart on the links between political contributions and stimulus expenditures.