The Home Front posted this morning on the news reports that AIG executives had attended a gathering at a luxury resort last week, just as the company was begging the government for more bailout cash.
This afternoon, I got the following email from an AIG press officer (who also says that AIG CEO Edward Liddy will be on Larry King tonight):
Today, Edward M. Liddy, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of American International Group, issued the following statement:
"Recent news reports have grossly mischaracterized an American International Group seminar for 150 independent financial planners held in Phoenix last week.
The financial planners are not AIG employees. In addition, the cost to AIG for this event was minimal. More than 90 percent of the costs were paid either by sponsors or by the independent financial planners themselves.
It is essential for AIG to conduct seminars of this kind to keep independent financial planners abreast of investment products and services including those offered by AIG. The financial planners are responsible for generating almost $200 million in revenue this year for AIG as of September 30th.
On October 10, I issued a directive to all AIG employees and subsidiaries to reduce expenses and conserve cash, including cancelling all nonessential conferences or meetings, unnecessary travel and excessive overhead. Since then, we have canceled more than 160 events. We conducted a top-to-bottom review of all expenses of the Phoenix meeting in advance and found that it was consistent with my October 10th directive. This conference was approved because it provides the kind of communication we must conduct with the people who sell our products if we are to be successful and repay the U.S. taxpayer."
The point is well taken. But I would still question why AIG--shortly after receiving sharp criticism about its St. Regis event and under intense public scrutiny because of the massive bailout--wouldn't simply avoid hotels with the word "resort" in their names all together?