Alfonse D'Amato

Another example of why people don't trust government


There is absolutely no question that there is something fishy about Jack Lew being named secretary of the Treasury. In fact, I believe it reeks of corruption, which is nothing new for Citigroup, which cost the American people billions of dollars with its shady practices.

What the American taxpayer should be concerned about is the previous job Lew held at Citigroup, and the terms of his compensation package, which at best create the appearance of a conflict of interest.

Before joining the Obama administration, Lew served as an investment banker at Citigroup. In his contract was a clause stating that Citigroup would pay a substantial bonus if he left the company for a top federal government job.

According to a Bloomberg Media report, “Lew stood to receive $250,001 to $500,000 worth of accelerated restricted Citigroup stock when he left the company, according to a disclosure report he filed. The same document listed $1.1 million of “salary and discretionary cash comp” from Citigroup. This applied if Lew left “prior to the payment of any incentive and retention award for performance year 2008 or thereafter.”

It is fair to say that Citigroup was basically offering Jack Lew a bounty to go out and actively seek a high-level position with the U.S. government.

Asked by ranking members of the Finance Committee, “Why didn’t Citi provide such acceleration of vesting if you had left Citi to work for charity?” or “Why didn’t Citi provide such acceleration of vesting if you had left Citi to work in the private sector not in competition with Citi?” Lew had very little to offer, simply stating, “I do not recall.”

Fortunately for Lew, Democratic lawmakers did not seem concerned at all with the circumstances surrounding the appointment. Sen. Max Baucus, a Democrat from Montana, stood beside his handpicked candidate, stating, “We need strong leadership at the Treasury Department to help tackle the many economic challenges facing our nation. Jack Lew has the experience and knowledge to help get the economy back on track.”

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