The same left-wing groups (like ACORN) who complained that bailout companies shouldn’t be awarding bonuses to their executives, might be getting their hands on some of the bailout money according to one senator.
CNBC’s Larry Kudlow asked Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., about that possibility on his April 22 program. The senator had sent out a press release the same day which said ACORN, Friends of the Earth, Planned Parenthood, the Natural Resources Defense Council and Conservation International Foundation, could be receiving TARP funds, at least indirectly.
“You and some others, Republicans, had a news conference today with some amendments to TARP and TARP transparency,” Kudlow said. “But in your press release, you make a point that I didn’t even know about – that it is possible that a number of companies receiving these taxpayer TARP funds are actually making donations to left-wing fringe groups, like ACORN, for example, and also, what is this – Planned Parenthood, the Natural Resources Defense Council, etc., etc. What can you tell us about that?”
Inhofe explained it was a media strategy necessary to mention those groups specifically to get the public’s attention and promote his amendment.
“Well, the reason that we used those organizations in our press release was number one, to promote our amendment, and number two to show that, even though I can’t say it’s happening today, I suspect it is – we know in the past that the very companies who have been the recipients of huge TARP funds are the same companies that have contributed to such fringe groups as ACORN,” Inhofe said.
Inhofe’s amendment would require TARP recipients “to fully disclose any expenditures that are not essential to restoring their solvency,” which would include donations to left-wing causes according to the senator.
“And and so, until we have an amendment on there to shine light on it, we don’t know for sure,” Inhofe said. “My amendment would say they would have to declare all of these organizations that they give to and you would say, ‘Wait a minute – that’s not American. That’s micromanaging.’”
Kudlow raised the issue that if it were OK for Congress to micromanage other aspects – including stock dividends, employee compensation and what modes of compensation executives use – then the causes TARP recipients give to should be open to the public.
“What do we think about a law that says you can’t pay dividends to these companies, you can’t have performance-based compensation, you’re not allowed to ride in a private plane even though it might save you hundreds of hours a year – but it’s OK to give money to community organizers like ACORN – what do we think about that?” Kudlow asked.
The Oklahoma Republican said the ideology of the people running the country in Congress and the presidency makes it possible for money to get to these groups from beleaguered TARP-receiving institutions.
“Well, I tell you what I think about it,” Inhofe said. “The problem is we have a majority of liberals running the House and the Senate and the White House right now. And their mentality is you want to micromanage companies, we want to make sure that money gets to the groups that support us.”
Inhofe was one of the members of the Senate that voted against the TARP bailout and  after the vote he said then-Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson had used scare tactics to cram the legislation through Congress.
“Let me say one thing about this though, Larry,” Inhofe continued. “We can’t get into the whole TARP idea without realizing that last October I was on your show and I said, ‘This thing is going to come back to haunt us.’ All those members – 75 members of the Senate voted to give an unelected bureaucrat the unlimited – $700 billion to do with as he wished.”
He also pointed out the $700-billion allocated for the TARP bailout was initially intended to purchase toxic assets, but the money went directly to institutions instead and he reminded people that current Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner was one of the architects of the plan.
“Now we find out that Geithner was back behind this thing all the time, too,” Inhofe said. “So it’s that crowd, they actually put money – do you remember what they said, they promised they would use this money to buy damaged assets. They didn’t buy one damaged asset. They lied to Congress.”