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Maria Bartiromo: CNBC's "Money Honey" in a Sticky Situation


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Maria Bartiromo, CNBC's star business anchor, finds herself the subject of unwanted scrutiny over the disclosure that her friendship and travels with a top Citigroup exec played a role in his firing.

Once a rising star at Citi, Todd Thomson was ousted after Citigroup executives got tired of his free-spending habits which included flying around the planet on the corporate jet with Bartiromo. The final straw was allegedly over a 16-hour flight back from Beijing after Thomson had bumped other bank passengers.



NEW YORK - CNBC's Maria Bartiromo has the support of her network in response to questions, and raised eyebrows, about her professional relationship with a former Citigroup boss.


The star financial anchor has reported extensively on Citigroup, and on Todd Thomson, formerly chief of Citigroup's wealth management unit. But last week, when Thomson was ousted, it was in part over issues of judgment, including his dealings with Bartiromo.


Questions arose about trips she took on a Citigroup corporate jet - and one she didn't. About a year ago, Thomson was turned down when he asked for the jet to bring Bartiromo to his home near Bozeman, Mont., for a skiing vacation he was hosting for some private-banking clients, according to The Wall Street Journal.


Among other complaints, Thomson was faulted by Citigroup Chairman Charles Prince for the decision to spend $5 million to sponsor Sundance Channel programming that Bartiromo was expected to co-host. According to the Journal, Bartiromo no longer will host the project.


Since 2004, Bartiromo has aired 11 major pieces on Citigroup, including four interviews with Thomson, according to the Journal's review of CNBC transcripts.


Michael J. Hanretta, a spokesman for Citigroup Inc., said Thomson "has left to pursue other interests. We are not commenting beyond that."


The succession of events has focused media scrutiny on Bartiromo, who, like any reporter, is expected not to get too close to, or accept favors from, the people and companies she covers.


On Friday CNBC said Bartiromo, 39, has done nothing improper.


"Her travel has been company-related and approved, and involved legitimate business assignments," CNBC spokesman Kevin Goldman said. "Permission was sought, permission was granted, and reimbursement procedures were arranged for her travel on corporate jets."

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