New AIG (AIG) CEO Robert Benmosche seems to be hitting it off with employees, but could be disturbing some board members. He's certainly not kissing up to Andrew Cuomo, Congressional representatives or federal regulators.
But Washington diplomacy is not in Benmosche's job description. AIG deliberately spit the job of leading the company back to health in two. The CEO is responsible for running the company and the Chairman of the Board is responsible for Washington relations.
Bloomberg exposed remarks made by Benmosche to employees where he said of Andrew Cuomo, "He doesn't deserve to be in government, and he surely shouldn't be the attorney general of the state of New York." When asked about the remarks, he told Bloomberg he regrets the comments and their tone.
Benmosche didn't have kind words for Washington legislators and regulators either, calling them "crazies down in Washington." Rep. Elijah Cummings, a vocal AIG critic, told the Wall Street Journal that Benmosche's comments were "most unfortunate" and he thinks Benmosche should apologize to Congress.
Benmosche says those remarks were made in a meeting with employees and were in response to an employee question. He wanted to let the employees know he understands their feelings and to let them know he would stand up for them.
Benmosche has a very different style than his predecessor Edward Liddy, who was respectful and accommodating, but couldn't get the job done. Will Benmosche's brash style enable him to rally the troops and turn around the company? Only time will tell, but I'm sure in the meantime, the board will try to rein in his abrasive style -- at least publicly.
Lita Epstein has written more than 25 books including Trading for Dummies.