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A few highlights on AIG’s Washington influence buying scheme, from Open Secrets:
In the last 20 years American International Group (AIG) has contributed more than $9 million to federal candidates and parties through PAC and individual contributions. That’s enough to rank AIG on OpenSecrets.org’s Heavy Hitters list, which profiles the top 100 contributors of all time.
Over time, AIG hasn’t shown an especially partisan streak, splitting evenly the $9.3 million it has contributed since 1989. In the last election cycle, though, 68 percent of contributions associated with the company went to Democrats. Two senators who chair committees charged with overseeing AIG and the insurance industry, Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) and Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), are among the top recipients of AIG contributions…President Obama and his rival in last year’s election, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), are also high on the list of top recipients.
AIG has been a personal investment for lawmakers, too. Twenty-eight current members of Congress reported owning stock in AIG last year, worth between $2.5 million and $3.3 million. Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), one of the richest members of Congress, was by far the biggest investor in AIG, with stock valued around $2 million.
Last year AIG and its subsidiaries spent about $9.7 million on federal lobbying, or about $53,000 for every day Congress was in session in 2008.
More from Ken Silverstein:
Perspective — October 23, 2013, 8:00 am
How pro-oil Louisiana politicians have shaped American environmental policy
Postcard — October 16, 2013, 8:00 am
A trip to one of the properties at issue in Louisiana’s oil-pollution lawsuits
On a Friday evening in January, a thousand people at the annual California Native Plant Society conference in San Jose settled down to a banquet and a keynote speech delivered by an environmental historian named Jared Farmer. His chosen topic was the eucalyptus tree and its role in California’s ecology and history. The address did not go well. Eucalyptus is not a native plant but a Victorian import from Australia. In the eyes of those gathered at the San Jose DoubleTree, it qualified as “invasive,” “exotic,” “alien” — all dirty words to this crowd, who were therefore convinced that the tree was dangerously combustible, unfriendly to birds, and excessively greedy in competing for water with honest native species.
In his speech, Farmer dutifully highlighted these ugly attributes, but also quoted a few more positive remarks made by others over the years. This was a reckless move. A reference to the tree as “indigenously Californian” elicited an abusive roar, as did an observation that without the aromatic import, the state would be like a “home without its mother.” Thereafter, the mild-mannered speaker was continually interrupted by boos, groans, and exasperated gasps. Only when he mentioned the longhorn beetle, a species imported (illegally) from Australia during the 1990s with the specific aim of killing the eucalyptus, did he earn a resounding cheer.
Percentage of Britons who cannot name the city that provides the setting for the musical Chicago:
An Australian entrepreneur was selling oysters raised in tanks laced with Viagra.
A tourism company in Australia announced a service that will allow users to take the “world’s biggest selfies,” and a Texas man accidentally killed himself while trying to pose for a selfie with a handgun.
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“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”