AIG Spin: Your Tax Dollars at Work

American International Group (AIG), "which is receiving its fourth taxpayer bailout, has four public relations firms on its payroll" -- Kekst & Company, Sard Verbinnen, Hill & Knowlton and Burson-Marsteller -- in addition to its own PR staff. While bailout recipients have been criticized for planning lavish retreats (which AIG has done repeatedly), using private jets and retaining lobbying firms, "some taxpayers and members of Congress could view public relations as unnecessary expenses," warns the New York Times. AIG "may legitimately need help talking to the crowds of journalists, regulators, legislators and investors," but the insurance giant has "given little clarity on taxpayer losses to date, or provided much communication directed towards taxpayers at all." Meanwhile, AIG's "public relations army" hasn't seemed to make its executives PR savvy. On a conference call, AIG chief restructuring officer Paula Reynolds "unwisely quipped that it might be 'better to go to jail' than have to deal with the intricacies of securities laws as they apply to AIG's situation."