Matt Tabibi wrote an interesting piece on Larry Summers, President Obama’s chief economic adviser. One of the main critiques is that he accepted major payoffs speaking fees from corporations that would soon demand billions of taxpayer dollars. He writes:
So I guess that $45,000 speaking fee from Merrill Lynch wasn’t technically a bribe because Summers wasn’t named to Obama’s economic transition team until Nov. 24 — a full 12 days later. I’m sure Larry Summers had absolutely no inkling whatsoever that he was going to be one of the key advisers to the new administration on Nov. 12.
It likewise makes perfect sense that Merrill Lynch, a company just months removed from having to be rescued from bankruptcy by an 11th-hour, pseudo-state-subsidized buyout by Bank of America, would decide to spend $45,000 on a speaking appearance by Summers because, well, they really valued his economic expertise and his proven ability to rally the troops with his stirring rhetoric.
It certainly had nothing to do with the fact that a) it was eight days after a Democrat was elected to the presidency; b) Summers had a long history of being one of the key policymakers in Democratic Party politics; and c) Merrill was absolutely not going to survive more than a few more months unless taxpayers forked over another 20 billion or so to cover the giant hole in Merrill’s balance sheet that was, at that time, still being hidden from Bank of America and its shareholders.
And how about that $135,000 appearance for Goldman Sachs in April, when Summers was already involved with Democratic Party politics again? That wasn’t a surreptitious campaign contribution at all!