A new report from the Center for Responsive Politics shows that recipients of federal bailout dollars spent $114 million on politicking in 2008. This includes $37 million on federal campaign contributions and $77 million on lobbying. The return on their investment was a staggering 258,449% based on the $295.2 billion that they have received as part of the government’s bailout program.
The Center for Responsive Politics writes:
“The companies giving the most to fund lawmakers’ campaigns and spending the most on lobbying efforts were also those that received the most TARP money to help them stay afloat. This includes General Motors, which spent $15 million between campaign contributions and lobbying expenditures and got $10.4 billion (more than all other companies), Bank of America (and the investment company it bought last year, Merrill Lynch), which spent $14.5 million to play politics and received $45 billion from the bailout bill; and American International Group (AIG), which spent $10.6 million and was paid out $40 billion. Citigroup was also one of the largest spenders to see a big result: between lobbying expenditures and campaign contributions, the company spent $12.5 million and got $50 billion.”
Much of the bailout money–handed out under the government’s Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP)–has been distributed with limited transparency. Money is often awarded with only a single-line announcement and no explanation of why they received the money.