The ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee is pressing for details about a $940,000 bonus paid by Citigroup after it was bailed out by taxpayers to a former executive who now is President Obama's nominee to oversee the federal budget.
In a letter to the Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner Friday, Sen. Charles Grassley said he was disappointed by Treasury's disappointment to prevent payment of wasteful bonuses and severance payments to executives at banks that had been bailed out by the federal government.
He specifically cited the case of Mr. Obama's nominee to the lead the Office of Management and Budget, Jacob Lew, a former Citigroup executive who joined the State Department as a deputy secretary in January 2009.
The Washington Times reported earlier this week that in addition to a previously disclosed $1.1 million compensation packaged for 2008, Mr. Lew reported in a new ethics filing that he also received a $940,000 bonus from Citigroup after the company took a federal bailout and days before he joined the Obama Administration.
"Regardless of whether the payment to Mr. Lew, and others like him, was 'grandfathered' or 'permitted by the rules in place at the time', were they contrary to the public interest?" Mr. Grassley asked in the letter.
He also singled out the case of an AIG executive who received nearly $1.4 million after being fired and after the company was bailed out.
The White House declined to comment on Mr. Lew's compensation when contacted by The Times earlier this week.
"Jack Lew has dedicated two decades to public service," White House spokeswoman Moria Mack wrote in an e-mail. "He has served with distinction in two Administrations and in Congress, and has precisely the kind of experience we need at OMB at this critical juncture."
Administration officials and many members of Congress have expressed outrage about big bonuses paid out to Wall Street executives working for firms that received a federal bailout.
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