Kennedy's Senate Replacement Rewarded Insurance CEO for Fraud
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When Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick appointed Paul Kirk, former chairman of the Democratic National Committee, to temporarily fill the Senate seat left open by the death of health-care reform advocate Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., the appointment hardly made news. It was simply a political appointment made to assure full representation for the people of Massachusetts until a special election could be run -- at a moment when Democrats need every vote they can muster in order to pass a health-care reform bill.
But Kirk is a curious choice to fill the shoes of a reformer, reports Kevin Connor at the blog Eyes on the Ties, given his role on the board of The Hartford, an insurance giant that settled for $20 million in fines and restitution to defrauded clients for "deception" in the sale of retirement products discovered in an investigation by the States of New York and Connecticut. Seems The Hartford was making payoffs to insurance brokers to push their retirement products.
Kirk not only sat on The Hartford's board at the time, but also on the board committee that determines executive compensation. Hartford CEO Raymani Ayer received compensation -- including the value of his stock shares -- in excess of the $20 million the Hartford paid to settle the fraud claims against it.
As Kirk prepares to cast his votes on health-care and financial-sector, whose interests will he have at heart?
Adele M. Stan is AlterNet's Washington editor.