Principal Financial Groups application for $2 billion in federal assistance is being opposed by Change to Win, an alliance of seven labor unions.
In a letter sent today to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, Anna Burger, CtW chairwoman, said companies that lobby Congress and administration officials to advance their corporate interests should be denied funds under the Troubled Asset Relief Program, administered by the Department of the Treasury, a CtW statement said.
Principal was singled out for spending $2.4 million lobbying the federal government in 2008, including $515,000 in the fourth quarter, when it lost more than half its book value and applied for TARP funds, the letter states. Principal's lobbying report for the fourth quarter alone covers 47 pages and lists 356 House and Senate bills addressing subjects as diverse as labor, retirement, trade, health, immigration, housing, government and a dozen other issue areas."
CtW called on Mr. Geithner to require that all TARP recipients adopt a responsible lobbying policy that covers both direct and indirect lobbying activities and includes both transparency and meaningful oversight. However, unless and until Treasury can assure hard-working taxpayers that our money is not being used against us, firms like Principal that engage in extensive, gratuitous lobbying are undeserving of TARP assistance.
CtW in its letter criticized Principal for lobbying on numerous issues that have nothing to do with its own business operations, including the Employee Free Choice Act, which would allow workers the freedom to choose a union without employer interference.
In response to the CtW letter, Principal said in a statement, The Principal Financial Group has not taken a position on the Employee Free Choice Act, nor do we plan to take such a position."
As an advocate and expert on long-term financial security, the Principal remains focused on core issues in the best interests of clients, both business and union organizations, as well as individuals covered by our plans. We have been a frequent advocate on issues of critical importance to unions and the financial services industry, such as civil rights and pension plan funding, according to the Principal statement.
Principals money management units include Principal Global Investors, Columbus Circle Investors, Post Advisory Group, Edge Asset Management and Spectrum Asset Management, whose combined assets under management totaled $248 billion as of Jan. 1, 2008, according to Pensions & Investments.