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March 23rd, 2009
12:36 PM ET

Lifestyles of the Rich and Shameless

Program Note: Watch Randi Kaye’s full report tonight on AC360 at 10 p.m. ET.

The pack of media at the home of AIG executive Douglas Poling as the group tries to deliver the letter.

The pack of media at the home of AIG executive Douglas Poling as the group tries to deliver the letter.
Outside of Poling's house.

Outside of Poling's house.

Randi Kaye | Bio
AC360° Correspondent

This was not your everyday guided bus tour. On board with me were a few dozen people who were either struggling financially or had lost their jobs or their homes. This tour took us through affluent areas of Connecticut so those less fortunate could see how some of the executives from AIG are living.

The tour was organized by the group, Connecticut Working Families, and dubbed the “Lifestyles of the Rich and Infamous” bus tour. It took us past two of the executives homes who had received big bonus checks from AIG even after the government had bailed out the company with about $170 billion in taxpayer dollars.

Our first stop was the home of Douglas Poling, an AIG executive who got the biggest bonus of all this month. His take was $6.4 million. The people on the tour tried to ring the bell at his house and hand-deliver a letter but tight security stopped them and the dozens of media following them at the driveway. So one member of the group read the letter out loud at the edge of the property and then put it in the mailbox.

The guy who read it is 24, lives with his parents in Hartford, CT, and earns about $7000 a year he told me teaching music. He also owes about $2000 in medical bills. You’ll meet him tonight in my story for Anderson Cooper 360° and hear what he has to say about how he lives compared to how these executives live.

Our next stop took us to the home of AIG executive James Haas. You should’ve seen this one. A multi-million dollar spread up on a hill with a gorgeous view of Southport Harbor. Again, they tried to get to the front door and were stopped by security. Again, the letter was read and placed in the mailbox.

Then we all headed to the AIG offices in Wilton Connecticut where the Financial Products division is based. That’s the group at AIG that specializes in credit-default swaps, contracts that are at the heart of the mortgage crisis.

The group protested there chanting and carrying signs that read “Dude, where’s my life savings?” and “AIG Bailout Crooks” and “Lifestyles of the Rich and Shameless”. I should note that the two executives who this bus tour tried to visit have agreed to give back their bonus checks, following the uproar around the country over them. As one AIG spokesman put it, “it was the correct thing to do.”

soundoff (33 Responses)
  1. Frank X. Bernal, Sr.

    I also believe that harassing people at their homes is dangerous and could lead to violence or worst. I do think that photo essays of CEO/upper management large pleasure boats, Country Club/Golf memberships, timeshares at Vail, would really lift the eyes of the public and keep innocents safe. Great job staff of AC!

    March 24, 2009 at 6:03 am |
  2. Steve in Las Vegas,NV

    Rich and shameless! How true that is, but it seems to be the Wall $t way. just a perpetual sense of complete entitlement. The excuse they wanted to retain their best & brightest simply is pure crap,100%

    Should have been renamed.. Greedy & Shameless!! And all of them should be fired as soon as possible!!

    March 24, 2009 at 2:50 am |
  3. Frank from Canada

    I watched the report tonight on TV – what a great idea, showing the rest of the world where these shameful characters live. Imagine, ripping off the hard working people of the US and not thinking anything of it....until there is an outcry. "The correct thing to do"? Give me a break! Hilarious listening to the local lady compalining about the tour.

    March 24, 2009 at 2:19 am |
  4. Tim Riley

    When speaking of bailouts, why do I have to bailout people who can't pay their mortgages? Why don't we do a tour of some of their houses? Just because people are stupid and buy houses they can't really afford, why do we have to bail them out? Let them lose their homes and rent an apartment. Someone looking for a home can get a great price!

    March 24, 2009 at 1:52 am |
  5. Tim Riley

    I don't think most of those people, on the tour of AIG homes, even have to pay taxes. How can they even say this is a waste of "their" money? The Democrats knew they were going to get these bonuses before the President even signed the bailout. How come no one is marching on Washington to complain about the 8.5 billion spent on earmarks in the President's budget? Some of which are quite ridiculous!!!

    March 24, 2009 at 1:42 am |
  6. Nathaniel

    CNN is shameless for promoting garbage like this. I'd like to see a bus go to your house Anderson or your mom who is worth billions. This is outright class warfare. Poor people, don't start a class warfare fight. The people with the money will win.

    March 24, 2009 at 1:37 am |
  7. Liz

    While I have nothing in common with Wall Street executives, and I disagree with and scorn the greed and power hunger that has driven top management at Wall Street and corporate America in general, I completely oppose your show covering how these people are signaled out and harassed at their home by organized interest groups such as Acorn and the likes. Very distasteful and upsetting!

    Don’t forget the illegal activity carried out by Acorn. No better than the Wall Street Executives.

    March 23, 2009 at 11:24 pm |
  8. william

    the AIG execs should not have taken the bonuses, but commenting on how their living is just as bad. you don't live in multi-million dollar mansions on one paycheck, it takes years and years of work, a masters or PhD.
    asking them to sell their homes wont do anything, no one will buy them. and taking away their salary wont do any thing either, we need people spending. i say let them keep their homes, and their salary, just don't give them any more bonuses!

    March 23, 2009 at 10:43 pm |
  9. Jeanette

    Sometimes I think that our nation is run ...... by orangutans, howler monkies or pig tailed macaques. The people didn't need to call the police, they were able to afford their own security people. Must be nice huh??
    too bad some of the people in our bad neighborhoods can't afford their own security, maybe they wouldn't have crack houses next door to them. by the way, I think we should do the same thing to a lot of our congressmen who got us into this whole financial mess due to their greed with the people who were buying out their votes and the inability to be honest with the voters.

    March 23, 2009 at 9:25 pm |
  10. Kim

    Wrong, Wrong, Wrong.... People are mad at the wrong people. Do not be mad those who protected themselves and their families by orchestrating a legal contract. Unethical maybe, but both sides signed the contract. Be mad at the AIG management that allowed those ridiculous contracts. Be mad the the government for having a knee-jerk reaction and handing out money without rules or oversight. (Funny how congress is pointing the finger outward instead of in at themselves.) Now driving around harassing employees for what you believe is a injustice is costing AIG even more money in security. That price tag will probably be far more then $165 million you all are complaining about.

    Don't have the mob mentality. The lesson here is don't give out money with out oversight. Move on. We can't just null and void contracts because we WANT to. We are a country of laws, we can't start throwing away other parties' contracts because we don't like them.

    March 23, 2009 at 8:04 pm |
  11. Leigh, Charlotte, NC

    I do not agree with fanning the fires of a "rich" versus "not rich" bond fire. Frankly, the 24 year old young man who teaches music would never earn what a wall street executive did whether there was a financial collapse or not, and there is little evidence that these particular executives did anything affect the earning power of the masses. Frankly, I had a law degree at 24 years old and still made less than $30,000.00 a year. This crisis is not about who is wealthy and who is not. Most economic philosophies that prevent a disparity of wealth are not integrated in a capitalist society. They thrive in Russia, Cuba and China. The real question is did these people earn their bonus fairly under the employment contract they accepted to do their jobs? If they were paid in correct compliance with their contracts, then the problem lies with the company or their boards, not the individuals. If they were paid in an attempt to circumvent the companies' problems by a friend or insider, they should be stripped and someone fired.

    March 23, 2009 at 7:31 pm |
  12. Gail Al.

    No the correct thing to do was never accept the bonus's. No one rewards failure, and that's what they have done Failed

    I wonder how long it's going to be before they want more. Geither should be fired, he knew before the bonus's were given, and had time to stop it and didn't.

    March 23, 2009 at 7:18 pm |
  13. Sam in GA

    If only we knew how many millions of dollars these same criminals made from the credit default swaps they bought at Goldman Sachs.

    March 23, 2009 at 6:08 pm |
  14. c,ca

    I am no fan of AIG, Merrill Lynch, or the others, but I do not agree with harassing people at their homes.

    This was a business decision. If people want to protest the bonuses then do it in front of AIG's offices. This group has no right to trespass onto anyone's property.

    If I were the person living in the house, I would've called the police. It is just a matter of time before this escalates into violence.

    March 23, 2009 at 6:07 pm |
  15. JC- Los Angeles

    America has become an abject disaster because it appears that every single leader, executive or politician simply asks for do-overs to go along with their massive employment contracts and egregious bonuses.

    If our nation was run by orangutans, howler monkies or pig tailed macaques, would we really be worse off?

    March 23, 2009 at 5:47 pm |
  16. Alex

    I hear sometimes comments to the extent that these people are financial gurus and indispensable and blah blah. Do not believe a single word! I work with some of them. The only thing that gets them these jobs and bonuses are connections-connections-connections. The great AIG way of cronyism! NOTHING ELSE.

    March 23, 2009 at 5:11 pm |
  17. Sharon Kitchen

    Way to go group.........during the Atlanta oylmpics people gave all the world reporters the same type of tour......only then it was to the real Atlanta........all the homeless where given two choices: jail for 3 months/1 way trip to Alabama......so that all the "wealthy "people would feel like spending money. The reporters were eager to get the real tour....of course one was "almost"thrown out when she uncovered the tarp that underneath lay an exposed nucelar rod.......oh well........5 mile area.......anyone near that area at that time?......See how the word gets out.

    March 23, 2009 at 4:48 pm |
  18. Mike in FXBG

    Was Dodd's home on the tour? If not, it should be. He's at the top of the list for unethical and shameless behavior.

    March 23, 2009 at 4:32 pm |
  19. bala

    going to the houses of rich people and protesting.. it sounds more like socialism.... taking money from the people and giving it to other people.. sounds like socialism too.. too bad..

    March 23, 2009 at 3:31 pm |
  20. Dina Gonzales

    This group is absolutely right in calling the AIG executives shameless and I should say greedy. The faith of millions of jobless and homeless are in their conscience...if they have a conscience.

    I would like to know what the letter says though...

    March 23, 2009 at 3:30 pm |
  21. Pam

    Unfortunately American Capitalism has been largely built on climbing the ladder of success while grinding ones foot into the face of someone underneath them. No system is perfect of course , but with ours it seems the higher up one goes the less sense of morality and connection to humanity one has. These vast sums of money seem to put folks on an island of isolation floating on a sea of greed, where they are so out of touch with the everyday working person who is simply trying to keep a roof over their families heads and food in their stomachs.
    The lack of balance in our country is extraordinary. Without balance there is little chance of harmony or unity.
    I'm glad these two executives chose to "do the right thing". After all,
    When the ladder topples, everyone falls together.

    March 23, 2009 at 3:29 pm |
  22. Isabel

    Hi, Randi!

    This is a shame! This is a shame to the people! And lack of shame on the executives.

    In my country, a parliamentarian has built a castle inspired in castles in Europe with a value of $ 25 million and he has not how such explained amounts of money.

    But what we can be done is this: to show people of how public money is being poorly spent!

    March 23, 2009 at 2:58 pm |
  23. kristi in kc

    Bravo!

    We should have more of this!
    The public needs to put these shameless theives on notice - that we know who they are and that we are not going to stand for it.

    March 23, 2009 at 2:56 pm |
  24. Tracy Solomon

    I don't think these AIG Execs care about anything anyone says as long as their lifestyle is okay and they have their money since that is why they took their job. It isn't like they take an oath to help people...

    March 23, 2009 at 2:52 pm |
  25. Neo

    I should note that the two executives who this bus tour tried to visit have agreed to give back their bonus checks, following the uproar around the country over them. As one AIG spokesman put it, “it was the correct thing to do.”

    .... yesterday. He should have said yesterday. Glad this worked.

    March 23, 2009 at 2:36 pm |
  26. Annie Kate

    If the ones visited had already given back their checks it seems to me it would have been more profitable to visit the homes of those who haven't given back their bonuses. They are the ones who warrant the attention.

    March 23, 2009 at 2:34 pm |
  27. Vicky, TN

    “it was the correct thing to do.”
    lol...u think???

    March 23, 2009 at 2:20 pm |
  28. amy

    This is an awesome thing to do.

    But, do you really think these millionaires care about regular people?

    March 23, 2009 at 2:06 pm |
  29. Jim

    Woe unto you who are rich, for you have recived your reward- what profit will it be when you have gained the whole world but lost your soul in hell for all eternity. Woe unto you who do not help your fellow man when it is in your power- for you shall recieve no aid in your time of need.

    March 23, 2009 at 1:41 pm |
  30. Charles

    I recently loss my business after 21 years and now I am on unemployment, food stamps, and recieveing my mulitple scorosis medications free of charge from the drug companies that produce them. I have lost all of my savings and my home is in foreclosure and no one bailed me or my business out. I invested my life and all my savings and now at 48 I must rebuild. These AIG executives live in a fantasy world now funded by the hard working people of America.

    March 23, 2009 at 1:23 pm |
  31. Cindy

    Randi,
    This type of thing should be done to all of the AIG employees, all of the Wall Street bigwigs and everyone else that we are bailing out now because of their stupid decision making. It should be aired on TV live for all to see how they are living compared to us.

    Looking forward to your report tonight. It sounds great! Hopefully you can do more like this.

    Cindy..Ga.

    March 23, 2009 at 12:44 pm |
  32. Michael "C" Lorton, VA

    It is bad enough what the AIG Executives did--you are only adding insult to injury-–do you actually believe that these individuals care about those who are unfortunate? You can't intiminate "greed."

    March 23, 2009 at 12:44 pm |