Senator Kerry targets bailout bank over golf

Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) attends the We Are One: Inaugural Celebration at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington January 18, 2009. REUTERS/Jason Reed

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A senior Democratic senator on Tuesday said he will introduce a bill to end “extravagant spending practices of U.S. banks” after reports that Northern Trust Corp, which got taxpayer bailout money, last week threw lavish parties at a California golf tournament.

“I’m sick and tired of picking up the newspaper and reading about another idiotic abuse of taxpayer money, while our country is on the brink,” Sen. John Kerry, a Massachusetts Democrat, said in a statement released to Reuters.

Kerry plans to introduce legislation targeting banks that received taxpayer assistance under the government’s $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP). Northern Trust got $1.6 billion under TARP, according to the Kerry statement.

The bank last week sponsored a golf tournament, the Northern Trust Open, at the Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades, California. It was won on Sunday by golfer Phil Mickelson.

Internet website TMZ reported that hundreds of Northern Trust clients and employees were flown in for the event and put up in exclusive luxury hotels.

Besides golf, the event also featured concerts by Sheryl Crow, Chicago, and Earth, Wind & Fire, TMZ reported.

Northern Trust said in a statement the golf tournament and related events are “part of a business decision regarding an annual event to show appreciation for clients.”

“This is the second year Northern Trust is sponsoring the Open as part of a five-year contract. The contract was signed in the fall of 2007 -- a year before the U.S. government’s Capital Purchase Program (under the TARP) existed.”

Reporting by Kevin Drawbaugh, with John Stempel in New York; editing by Jeffrey Benkoe