John McCain is making a big show of criticizing the government “bailout” of insurance giant AIG. But it turns out that AIG, which received $85 billion in US tax dollars earlier this week, is one of the largest donors to McCain’s pet think tank, the comically named “Reform Institute,” which he co-founded in 2001 “in direct response to the millions of Americans who, during the 2000 presidential campaign, expressed profound disillusionment with corrupt fundraising activities.”
Apparently, AIG was so troubled over the issue of corrupt fundraising activities that they loaded in as one of the top VIP donors in McCain’s nonprofit think-tank, whose website lists AIG in the “over $50,000″ donor category–although exactly how much over that $50,000 is still unclear. Nor is it clear why AIG had any business donating so much money to a think tank whose work in no way overlapped with the insurance company’s–unless, of course, that money was just meant to gain access to McCain.
The “Reform Institute” has taken a lot of heat as a front organization designed to funnel money to McCain’s political career. As Ari Berman wrote, McCain’s campaign co-chair, Rick Davis, served as the president of the nonprofit Reform Institute for three years, earning $395,000 in salary. Davis also headquartered his lobbying firm, Davis Manafort, in the Reform Institute’s offices at that time. He is just one of several McCain people who passed through the Reform Institute’s revolving door while McCain prepared for the 2008 campaign. McCain formally stepped down from his own institute in 2005, but he remains deeply linked to the Reform Institute to this day.So when McCain declared this week that “The government was forced to commit $85 billion” to his mega-donor AIG, the question becomes, “What forced you to do it?” The American taxpayers never got a red cent in donations from AIG–but now, they’re being forced by people like McCain, whose career profited from AIG donations, to buy his backer’s massively indebted trash heap in what can only be described as the worst business deal in this nation’s history, or the worst example of crony nationalization.