Politicians Go to These Companies to Get Rich

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1. Chevron
> Board member: Chuck Hagel
> Board compensation: $301,199
> Director since: 2010
> Primary job: Distinguished Professor at Georgetown University and chairman of think-tank Atlantic Council
> Common stock ownership: 3,046 shares
> Government service: U.S. Senator from Nebraska (1997 to 2009)

From 1997 to 2009 Mr. Hagel served as a U.S. Senator from Nebraska. Hagel makes a strong addition to the Chevron (NYSE: CVX) board because of the time he spent on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. Hagel was often mentioned as a candidate for the presidency, vice-presidency and Secretary of State position. Hagel is currently on the board of Zurich’s Holding Company of America, the Advisory Boards of Corsair Capital, and the Advisory Board of Deutsche Bank America.

2. General Electric (NYSE: GE)
> Board member: Sam Nunn
> Board compensation: $312,793
> Director since: 1997
> Primary job: Co-chairman and chief executive officer, Nuclear Threat Initiative
> Common stock ownership: GE stock-based: 273,878 shares
> Government service: U.S. Senator from Georgia (1972 to 1997)

Elected member the U.S. Senate in 1972, Nunn served as the chairman and ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. Retiring from office in 1997, Nunn was rumored to be a potential running mate for both Barack Obama and John Kerry. One of the advantages he would have brought to an election is his considerable knowledge of the Defense Department, its inner workings and procurement methods. Nunn is one of several people who sits on multiple Fortune 500 boards. He has served as a director of the Coca-Cola Company (NYSE: KO), Chevron and Dell (NASDAQ: DELL). Some governance experts would argue this is far too many, given the workload of these jobs.

3. Ford
> Board member: Richard A. Gephardt
> Board compensation: $224,455
> Director since: 2009
> Primary job: Gephardt Government Affairs
> Common stock ownership: 32,346 shares
> Government service: U.S. House of Representative from Missouri (1976 – Jan 2005)

Some governance experts do not think Washington lobbyists should also serve on public companies’ boards. In the U.S. House of Representatives from 1976 until January 2005, Gephardt is now one of the more visible lobbyists in DC. Gephardt’s Government Affairs’ tag line is “Strategy. Access. Results.” The “access” part would make some experts on the role of a board member uncomfortable. Gephardt was named a “top lobbyist” by a division of the Congressional Quarterly. He ran for president in 1988 and 2004.

4. Ford
> Board member: Jon M. Huntsman, Jr.
> Board compensation: New director
> Director since: February 2012
> Primary job: Chairman of the Huntsman Cancer Foundation
> Common stock ownership: 0
> Government service: Governor of Utah (2005 to 2009)

Serving as Governor of Utah for one term, Huntsman was a candidate for president just before he joined the Ford (NYSE: F) board. He was the U.S. Ambassador to China from 2009 to 2011. Huntsman was appointed to the board of Caterpillar (NYSE: CAT) in April, just about the time his run for the presidency ended. Perhaps this was a coincidence.

5. JP Morgan (NYSE: JPM)
> Board member: William H. Gray III
> Board compensation: $266,250
> Director since: 1992, stepped down at last annual meeting
> Primary job: Chairman of government lobbying and advisory firm Gray Global Strategies
> Common stock ownership: 89,061 shares
> Government service: U.S. House of Representative from Pennsylvania (1978 to 1991)

Gray represented Pennsylvania’s 2nd congressional district in the House of Representatives from 1978 until his resignation on September 1991. He was chairman of the House Committee on the Budget and House Majority Whip. Gray’s record as a public company director is less than clean. He was marked as a “Flagged (Problem) Director” by the Corporate Library due to his Visteon responsibilities leading up to the corporation’s bankruptcy. The same organization criticized him for having the largest number of board seats on the most heavily interconnected public companies. Put another way, it is a rebuke in part for the number of board seats he holds.