Program Note: Watch Randi Kaye’s full report tonight on AC360 at 10 p.m. ET.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/03/23/art.aig.media.mongrel.jpg caption="The pack of media at the home of AIG executive Douglas Poling as the group tries to deliver the letter."]
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/03/23/art.aig.tour.media.mob.jpg caption="Outside of Poling's house."]
Randi Kaye | Bio
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.”
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