NEW YORK (Reuters) - The head of insurer American International Group
Outrage over bonuses paid to bankers "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
His words provoked a sharp reaction.
"Simply outrageous. AIG should disavow statement now," tweeted Benjamin Lawsky, the superintendent of the New York Department of Financial Services.
Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, a Maryland Democrat, called for Benmosche to resign.
"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," Cummings said in a statement.
Benmosche later apologized for the remarks.
"It was a poor choice of words. I never meant to offend anyone by it," Benmosche said in a statement.
Thousands of people, mainly African-Americans and primarily in the South, were beaten, hanged and killed in the 19th and 20th centuries by racist mobs.
In contrast, government officials and activists criticized banks and other financial institutions that handed out bonuses during the financial crisis, despite a still-shaky economy and many of the banks' own roles in causing the economic meltdown beginning in 2008.
(Reporting by Luciana Lopez; Editing by Ken Wills)