U.S. representative Ed Towns of New York has contacted insurance giant American International Group to express concern about bailout funds being used to fight back against critics of the firm.
“I would be extremely disappointed to learn that any of the billions of taxpayer dollars invested to support AIG may have been diverted to finance a public relations campaign against critics of the AIG bailout,” Towns, a Democrat, wrote in a letter dated April 14 to he AIG chief executive Edward Liddy, Reuters reported.
He requested information about dates, bills, or any communications between any public relations firm hired after September 16, 2008, around the time when the firm first received a bailout loan from the government.
Towns made note of a report in PR Week stating that AIG had hired firm Burston-Marstellar.
Towns heads the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. He said he was surprised to know the company was contacting the press ahead of the appearance before his committee of former CEO Hank Greenberg.
AIG defended its efforts to reach out to the press.
“This issue is not about AIG's corporate public relations expenditures, which are down sharply since last year. It is about correcting Mr. Greenberg's false and damaging statements,” said AIG spokesman Mark Herr.
Greenberg has denied that he is responsible for any of the losses at AIG, saying the company was profitable when he left several years ago.
AIG chief Edward Liddy has previously laid some of the blame for the company’s failure on Greenberg’s move to create a financial products unit which incurred the majority of losses the firm has endured related to credit default swaps.