October 7th, 2008
05:44 PM ET

Evening Buzz: Debate Night & AIG's Re$ort Retreat

Maureen Miller
AC360° Writer
Hey, everyone.

It's going to a big night in the race for the White House.

Be sure to join us tonight at 9pm ET for the second presidential debate between John McCain and Barack Obama.  The face off will take place at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee.

The format will be much different than the first debate. This will be like a town hall meeting, with undecided voters in the audience asking some of the questions. Moderator Tom Brokaw of NBC News will also be grilling the candidates.

They're expected to cover a variety of topics.  But a big chunk of the debate  will likely focus on the economy.  The Dow took another beating today, falling 508 at the closing bell. 

And, we're wondering if today's development from Capitol Hill on the bailout of insurance giant AIG will come up in the discussion.

Before I share with you what lawmakers revealed today, I have some advice:

1) Ummm, move anything of value away from the computer. You may be tempted to release your anger in a way that could lead to the demise of your favorite vase?
2) Inhale. Exhale.

OK. I know.  I can't hold you back anymore.

Here are the details:

Just days after the federal government helped AIG avoid bankruptcy with a $85 billion lifeline, the company's leaders were throwing a one-week retreat at the St. Regis Resort in Monarch Beach, near San Diego, California.

The price tag: At least $440,000, including $23,000 in spa charges and $1,400 at the salon.

That's according to members of the House Committee on Oversight and Government who blasted AIG leadership on Capitol Hill today.

"Average Americans are suffering economically. They are losing their jobs, their homes, and their health insurance. Yet less than one week after the taxpayers rescued AIG, company executives could be found wining and dining at one of the most exclusive resorts in the nation," said Rep. Henry Waxman, D-California, chairman of the House committee.

Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Maryland, also blasted AIG. "They were getting their manicures, their facials, their pedicures and their massages while the American people were footing the bill," said Cummings.

Then there's the cost of the hotel rooms. "Rooms start at $425 a night, some in the thousands, more than some of my constituents pay on a mortgage payment on homes they are losing," added Cummings.

AIG's ex-CEO Robert Willumstad told the committee he was unaware of the retreat (He left the company just after the bailout) and said it "seems very inappropriate."

But AIG spokesman Nick Ashooh said the retreat has been "completely mischaracterized." He said the event was scheduled a year ago. "It wasn't AIG executives running off for a lavish weekend," he said.

Ashooh said it was a gathering to reward top-performing sales agents, and its was not for the executives.

AIG versus lawmakers on Captiol Hill.
Caught in the middle: you, the taxpayer.

Do you think AIG should have cancelled the retreat?
And, how's your vase or whatever breakables you may have by the laptop?
Maybe you need a day at the spa? 
I would love one. 
 I just think in this economy I should spend my money more wisely, right?

Filed under: Maureen Miller • The Buzz
soundoff (53 Responses)
  1. Joan Edison

    PS – American's don't have to passively blog...they can proactively transfer all of their business away from AIG. We do hold the power to make to change!

    October 8, 2008 at 7:40 am |
  2. Joan Edison

    AIG's executives spa expenditures demonstrate their continued [false] beliefs of self-entitlement, their continued lack of ownership for their fiscal mismanagement, and their continued disrespect for working Americans. If congress does not take action and require that money to be paid back, they will reinforce every working American's mistrust of the government's judgement and credibility. Will this be an "I told you so?"

    October 8, 2008 at 7:37 am |
  3. J.V.Hodgson

    Insensitive at least they should have cancelled it. most of these can be cancelled with 48 hours notice without penalty.
    Typical of current big business bad judgement!!

    October 8, 2008 at 1:39 am |
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