How Jack “Bailout Bonus” Lew Got to Treasury

As I and many others have pointed out for years, unless you are a crony Wall Street welfare queen you can pretty much forget about any high level position in the Obama Administration.  Barack made that clear from day one when he decided to surround himself with two of the people at the core of the 2008 financial crisis, Larry Summers and Tim Geithner.  The trend is simply continuing with the current nominee for Treasury Secretary: Jack “Bailout Bonus” Lew.  The revolving door is institutionalized and at this point as reliable as a Swiss watch.  From Bloomberg:

Jack Lew is the nominee for Treasury secretary whose own bonus as an investment banker was bailed out by the Treasury Department when it rescued Citigroup Inc. (C) in 2008.  He owes much to America’s taxpayers. He should also be grateful to Citigroup for agreeing to let him rejoin the government without suffering much for it financially.

An intriguing revelation from Lew’s Senate confirmation hearing last week was that he stood to be paid handsomely by Citigroup if he left the company for a top U.S. government job, under his 2006 employment agreement with the bank. The wording of the pay provisions made it seem, at least to me, as if Citigroup might have agreed to pay Lew some sort of a bounty to seek out, and be appointed to, such a position.

Of course he is close to one of the biggest snakes in the grass in modern American history, Robert Rubin.

He joined Citigroup in 2006 as chief operating officer of its global wealth-management division. Lew was recommended by former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin, who at the time was chairman of Citigroup’s executive committee. (There seems to be an unwritten rule that every Treasury secretary must have deep ties to Rubin.)

Lew’s employment agreement with Citigroup said his “guaranteed incentive and retention award” wouldn’t be paid if he quit his job, with limited exceptions. One was if he left Citigroup “as a result of your acceptance of a full-time high level position with the United States government or regulatory body.”

A similar provision concerned his stock-based compensation. If Lew left in 2008 or afterward to accept a high-level U.S. government position, all of his outstanding equity awards, including restricted stock, would vest immediately, the document said.

When I asked Citigroup what its rationale was for including the government-service exception, a spokeswoman, Danielle Romero-Apsilos, said: “Citi routinely accommodates individuals who wish to leave the firm to pursue a position in government or nonprofit sector.” I pointed out that the contract terms I was asking about didn’t mention anything about a nonprofit, but she declined to elaborate on her statement.

Of course she did.

Full article here.

In Liberty,
Mike

Follow me on Twitter!