AIG Cancels Ritz Trip, Other Events
Amid a firestorm of criticism over its $443,000 executive retreat to a luxurious southern California resort, bailed-out insurance giant AIG Inc. is canceling its Ritz-Carlton business meeting in Half Moon Bay, Calif., and most of its other get-togethers, company officials said.
AIG spokesman Joe Norton said the company is canceling the Ritz-Carlton event after "reevaluating all of our operations, obviously including this kind of function."
Earlier this week, officials had defended the gathering and a similar event at Atlanta's Marquis Marriott next week, saying they were a regular part of business and paid for by money-making subsidiaries.
Bloomberg reports that AIG considered buying advertisements to explain its position on the events, but was told by its public-relations consultant, George Sard, that it would be "a really bad idea."
"To spend the taxpayer's money on an expensive ad campaign to apologize for how you used taxpayer money leaves you open to further attacks," Sard, chief executive officer of New York-based Sard Verbinnen & Co., wrote in an e-mail to AIG executive Nicholas J. Ashooh (and mistakenly sent to Bloomberg).
The cancellations also come on the heels of AIG's announcement that it would need another $38 billion from the Federal Reserve, a huge increase over the Fed's previously announced $85 billion rescue package for AIG. .
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