In a Thursday afternoon conference call with Connecticut reporters, U.S. Sen. Chris Dodd, chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, tried to clarify his position on the AIG executive bonuses.
Dodd said he was involved in writing the controversial loophole to the stimulus bill, which allowed AIG to provide employees bonuses, but only after the Treasury Department insisted on the change.
“We wrote it. Our staff did that, but the idea came from the administration. I wasn’t negotiating with myself,” Dodd said Thursday.
Asked if the Obama administration let him twist in the wind over the past few days on this issue, Dodd said, “I gather that’s been cleared up to some degree, which I appreciate but I would have appreciated it earlier.”
Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner told CNN this afternoon that it was his department which asked Dodd to include the language in the bill. Geithner told CNN he was worried the government could face lawsuits if the employment contracts were breached.
“It wasn’t my idea, my proposal, my suggestion. That came from the administration. They proposed it, said what the reason was, and we agreed to it,” Dodd said.
In a statement sent out Wednesday evening after his interview with CNN Dodd said, “I’m the one who has led the fight against excessive executive compensation, often over the objections of many. I did not want to make any changes to my original Senate-passed amendment, but I did so at the request of administration officials who gave us no indication that this was in any way related to AIG. Let me be clear—I was completely unaware of these AIG bonuses until I learned of them last week.”
Dodd said Thursday that it wasn’t his intention to mislead anyone over this issue. He said he was told the change to the language in the stimulus bill was more technical in nature and was to avoid lawsuits. It had nothing whatsoever to do with AIG, Dodd said.
“Reports that I changed my position on this issue are simply untrue. I answered a question by CNN last night regarding whether or not a specific date was aimed at protecting AIG. When I saw that my comments had been misconstrued, I felt it was important to set the record straight—that this had nothing to do with AIG,” Dodd said in Wednesday’s statement.
During the conference call Thursday afternoon Dodd also said that if he had received any campaign contributions from AIG or its employees, he would return them or donate them to charity.
Special thanks to My Left Nutmeg for getting the audio of the call up so quickly.