TARP On Football Field

A lot of football fans probably squirmed a bit watching year-end bowl games with sponsor names like Citigroup, Capital One Financial and GMAC flashing on the screen. So much for letting taxpayers forget for a moment the $700 billion federal bailout.

Citigroup, Capital One and GMAC are just three of the financial institutions handed billions of dollars by the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Troubled Asset Relief Program. Other college football bowl sponsors that were helped by TARP include Bank of America, U.S. Bankcorp and Eagle Bancorp.

Rep. Scott Garrett (R-N.J.), a critic of TARP, told the Wall Street Journal that a lot of the banks that sponsored games are not lending to consumers as intended. The Treasure has been reluctant to put restrictions on the funds, the WSJ noted.

“The irony is these guys aren’t lending to people, so what are they advertising for?” Garrett told the paper.

Pete Sepp of the National Taxpayers Union added that some of the advertisers probably assumed they needed to put their brands on these events but “taxpayers might think they’re being taken for a ride.”

Citigroup spokesman Luis Rosero defended the company’s sponsorship of the Rose Bowl.

“For the last several years this has been part of an integrated marketing strategy and no taxpayer-funded TARP money was used for it,” Rosero told the paper.

A spokeswoman for the Treasure declined to comment for the WSJ story.