From Michael Moore:
WASHINGTON — Top White House economic adviser Lawrence Summers received about $5.2 million over the past year in compensation from hedge fund D.E. Shaw, and also received hundreds of thousands of dollars in speaking fees from major financial institutions.
A financial disclosure form released by the White House Friday afternoon shows that Mr. Summers made frequent appearances before Wall Street firms including J.P. Morgan, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs and Lehman Brothers. He also received significant income from Harvard University and from investments, the form shows.
In total, Mr. Summers made a total of about 40 speaking appearances to financial sector firms and other places, with fees totaling about $2.77 million. Fees ranged from $10,000 for a Yale University speech to $135,000 for an appearance paid for by Goldman Sachs & Co.
The disclosure — in a financial report that is required for federal office holders — comes as Mr. Summers is involved in shaping the Obama administration’s policy decisions on the financial meltdown as well as the broader recession. Among the many decisions the economic team has wrestled with has been whether to step up regulation of hedge funds, one of the most contentious subjects during a summit of world leaders this week. European nations pushed for tougher rules, while the Obama administration preferred a less stringent approach.
Asked to comment, White House spokesman Ben LaBolt said that, “from the first days of the administration, we have bolstered accountability over banks” and made other rules changes so that “the influence of lobbyists is curbed, executive compensation is reined in, and firms are required to show how they will preserve or expand lending using government funds.” He added: “Dr. Summers has been at the forefront of this administration’s work to shore up our nation’s financial system and to put in place a regulatory framework that will strengthen the financial system and its oversight — all in an effort to help the families across America who have paid a very steep price for risky decisions made by Wall Street executives.”
A White House official added that the speeches “long pre-date Summers’s work as an official of the Obama administration or even the Obama transition. He was not an adviser to or an employee of the firms that paid him to speak.”
View Full Image Lawrence Summers photo Bloomberg News
Lawrence Summers, center, gets ready to speak about the banking crisis at a conference in Washington on Wednesday. Lawrence Summers photo Lawrence Summers photo
Mr. Summers joined D.E. Shaw Group in late 2006 as a managing director. He helped develop strategies including new businesses and also helped evaluate investments for the New York firm, which oversees about $30 billion in assets, making it one of the biggest hedge-fund managers in the world. A D.E. Shaw spokeswoman couldn’t be reached for comment.
In at least one instance, Mr. Summers shed fees paid to him from a Wall Street firm that received federal funds. His form shows that he received a $45,000 speaking fee from Merrill Lynch on Nov. 12 — about a week after Barack Obama won the election — and that he donated the sum to charity.
The White House official said that when Mr. Summers “became aware that Merrill Lynch would be accepting taxpayer funds through its merger with Bank of America, he attempted to cancel his appearance.” The official added that “when he was unable, he elected to donate those funds to charity.”
Mr. Summers also received significant income from Harvard University, where he served until 2006 as president, and from investments, his disclosure form shows.
In addition to the Summers form, the White House released financial disclosure material for other top aides.
David Axelrod, the president’s top political advisor, reported in his form that he will get $3 million over the next five years from the sale of his two media consulting firms, ASK Public Strategies, LLC and AKP&D Message and Media. In addition, Mr. Axelrod took a salary of $896,776 last year from AKP&D and reported $651,914 in partnership income from the two companies.
In total, Mr. Axelrod reported assets valued between $6.9 million and $9.5 million. Mr. Axelrod’s clients were mostly political campaigns, including those of Rep. Patrick Kennedy, New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, and Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley. He also reported receiving money from large corporations such as AT&T Inc., Comcast Corp. and the nuclear energy company Exelon Corp.
National Security Adviser James Jones reported $900,000 in salary and bonus from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce as well as director fees from a number of corporations. He received, for example, $330,000 from Boeing Corp. and $290,000 from Chevron Corp.
Gregory Craig, White House Counsel, reported receiving a salary of $1.7 million last year from Williams & Connolly, the high-powered Washington law firm where he had been a partner since 1999.
White House Social Secretary Desiree Rogers collected a $350,000 salary from Allstate Financial as president of the social networking division, as well as $150,000 in board fees from Equity Residential, a real estate investment trust in which she also holds at least $250,000 in stock. She also collected $20,000 in board fees from Blue Cross Blue Shield. Other assets reported in her checking account, stock investments, and mutual funds total at least $2 million.
Valerie Jarrett, assistant to the president for intergovernmental affairs, lists a $300,000 salary and $550,000 in deferred compensation from The Habitat Executive Services, Inc., in Chicago.
Ms. Jarrett also disclosed payments of more than $346,000 for service on boards of directors that reflect her political ties, and work in Chicago real estate and community development.
She was paid $76,000 last year for service as a director of Navigant Consulting, Inc. a Chicago-based global consulting group with governmental clients. She received $146,600 for service on the board of USG Corporation, a building materials manufacturer, and $58,000 to serve on the board of Rreef American REIT II, a real estate investment trust based in San Francisco. The Chicago Stock Exchange, Inc., paid her $34,444 to serve on its board.
Deputy National Security Advisor Tom Donilon earned $3.9 million as a partner at the law firm of O’Melveny & Myers LLP, where his clients include Citigroup, Inc., Goldman, Sachs & Co., and Obama fundraiser and heiress Penny Pritzker.
Carol Browner, assistant to the president for energy and climate change, disclosed earnings of between $1 million and $5 million from lobbying firm Downey McGrath Group, Inc., where her husband, Thomas Downey, is a principal. She states $450,000 in “member distribution” income, plus retirement and other benefits from The Albright Group, a lobbying firm whose principals include former Secretary of State Madeline Albright.
Some White House aides received considerably more modest compensation.
Director of Domestic Policy Council Melody Barnes reported modest retirement investments and $88,000 in income from her work on the Obama campaign and transition team, including $30,000 in consulting fees from Washington, D.C.-based firm The Raben Group.
Director of the White House Office of Urban Affairs Adolfo Carrion reported no assets outside of his $160,000 salary earned as borough president of the Bronx and retirement funds for him and his wife.
Patrick Gaspard, Director of the Office of Political Affairs, reported no assets aside from income of $198,000 combined from the SEIU International Union and Mr. Obama’s presidential campaign. His listed liabilities are $10,000 to $15,000 in credit-card debt and $15,000 to $20,000 in student loan debt.
And we’ve already established that the Republicans are infinitely worse.