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Citigroup Donating Big Sums to Davis

August 14, 2002

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) _ Financial services giant Citigroup Inc. is fighting on several fronts in California to influence key legislators and Gov. Gray Davis.

Since January 2001, the company has donated at least $200,000 to Davis, including $75,000 in May, when the company threw a fund-raising luncheon for Davis, state campaign finance records show. The Democratic governor and the nation’s largest financial services company have had a long relationship, and Davis’ brother-in-law George Ross is the company’s chief credit officer and a longtime associate of Citigroup chief executive Sanford Weill.

Citigroup’s May donations came just before its Citibank subsidiary sued the state over a law that would require credit card companies to warn customers on their monthly statements how long it would take to pay off balances by just paying the minimum monthly payment.

The lawsuit is one of the many recent Citigroup moves, as it tries to maintain its market share, prop up its faltering stock price and fight back consumer organizations seeking to limit the sale of personal financial information.

``What do they want for that big investment?″ asked Robert Stern, president of the Center for Governmental Studies, a Los Angeles-based think tank studying campaign finance and elections. ``My assumption is that the return will be enormous, if they get what they want.″

Citigroup officials did not return repeated calls by The Associated Press for comment, and its chief Sacramento lobbyist, Lynnea Olsen, declined to comment.

Long considered one of the nation’s most successful companies, Citigroup has been rocked by huge loan losses in Latin America, accusations that its investment bankers helped hide Enron’s debt from the public and a federal investigation into whether it offered special access to shares of new stock offerings to executives at now-bankrupt WorldCom. As a result, its stock is down 39 percent this year.

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