Doing nothing to help rehabilitate the public image of bankers, AIG's CEO Robert Benmosche has sparked outrage by comparing backlash over the millions in bonuses the company paid staff in 2009 to racist lynchings. The uproar "was intended to stir public anger, to get everybody out there with their pitch forks and their hangman nooses, and all that—sort of like what we did in the Deep South [decades ago]. And I think it was just as bad and just as wrong," he told the Wall Street Journal in an interview.
One lawmaker has called on Benmosche to resign, reports the Financial Times. "I find it unbelievably appalling that Mr. Benmosche equates the violent repression of the African-American people with congressional efforts to prevent the waste of taxpayer dollars," says Rep. Elijah Cummings, who says his parents were sharecroppers who "actually experienced lynchings." Benmosche has since apologized for his comment. "It was a poor choice of words," he said in a statement. "I never meant to offend anyone by it."