AP Digs Up a Good One

John Solomon of the Associated Press has broken out his shovel and hit paydirt.

In 2000, as a member of the Senate Commerce Committee, John Kerry convinced committee chairman John McCain to drop legislation that would have required American International Group (AIG), the insurer for the Boston Central Artery/Tunnel, to return $150 million in investment revenue it made on taxpayer funding of the “Big Dig.”

Solomon obtained documents showing that over the next two years, AIG paid Kerry’s way on a trip to Vermont and donated at least $30,000 to the tax-exempt group Kerry used to set up his presidential campaign. Company executives also donated $18,000 to his senate and presidential campaigns, Solomon reports.

Kerry’s office confirmed that the Massachusetts senator persuaded McCain to drop legislation that would have closed a funding loophole that allowed AIG to invest the money and keep any profit from the investment. But spokeswoman Stephanie Cutter denied there was a quid pro quo.

As Solomon reports, others don’t agree. “The idea that Kerry has not helped or benefited from a specific special interest, which he has said, is utterly absurd,” according to Charles Lewis, head of the Center for Public Integrity, which researches the influence of money in politics.

In a campaign where solid investigative work so far has been a rarity, it’s nice to see that someone on the trail is still willing to get their tools out and turn over some earth.

—Susan Q. Stranahan

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Susan Q. Stranahan wrote for CJR.