Citi solicits staff donations for its political lobby

March 29, 2012

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Citigroup, the third largest U.S. bank, is actively soliciting donations from its employees for its political action committee (PAC) or fundraising group. In a letter to staff obtained by Reuters, the bank stressed the importance of the upcoming presidential and Congressional elections, urging staff to give to Citi’s PAC. From the letter:

Our Government Affairs team already does a great job promoting our positions on important issues to lawmakers, but there is one thing that each of us can do to enhance their efforts: contribute to Citi’s Political Action Committee (PAC).

Citi PAC is one of the most effective tools we have to amplify the voice of the company in Washington and enhance our profile with lawmakers.  The PAC provides the resources to help suport government officials who share our views on key policy objectives and who understand the impact various policy decisions may have on overall economic investment and growth.

Said a Citi spokesperson:

Citi PAC is funded by the voluntary, personal contributions of its employees. The PAC contributes to candidates on both sides of the aisle that support a strong private sector and promote entrepreneurship.

The firm, which was forced to alter its plans to raise dividend payments following weak results from the Federal Reserve’s bank stress tests earlier this month, is also offering some professional incentives for those employees who are willing to open their wallets.

Over the coming weeks and months, we will host a series of briefings, calls and receptions for Citi PAC supporters. For examples(sic.), contributors to Citi PAC will be invited to attend a closed-door, high-level election year briefing with senior Citi executives and nationally renowned political analyst Charlie Cook. Additional details will soon be circulated.

According to the Center for Responsive Politics in Washington, the PAC raised $403,690 so far in this election cycle, 47 percent going to Democrats and 53 percent to Republicans.

Citi is not breaking any rules, according to the Federal Election Commission. In fact the practice is pretty commonplace. The only thing that companies can’t do is explicitly bully their staff into giving, the FEC says. According to the rules, the following would cross the line:

Using coercion, such as the threat of a detrimental job action, the threat of any other financial reprisal, or the threat of force, to urge any individual to make a contribution or engage in fundraising activities on behalf of a candidate or political committee.

David Henry also contributed to this post

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