As millions of Californians continue to struggle in this economy, Meg Whitman will spend her evening today collecting huge checks from corporate insiders at the posh Corona Del Mar mansion of fellow billionaire CEO Henry Samueli.
Of course, there’s nothing unusual about candidates holding fundraisers, even billionaires like Whitman. But there’s more to meets the eye with this particular fundraiser considering the host’s background. And there’s some serious questions that need to be raised about whom exactly would have Whitman’s ear if she were to be elected governor.
Among the most burning questions raised in relation to tonight’s Whitman-Samueli cash bonanza is: Why would Whitman draw herself further into the web of corporate greed and corruption epitomized by Broadcom, the company Samueli led until forced out amidst the nation’s largest stock backdating scandal?
California Labor Federation Executive Secretary-Treasurer Art Pulaski:
Meg Whitman’s decision to hold a high-dollar fundraiser with another billionaire CEO whose questionable practices have drawn the attention of federal investigators is both troubling and illuminating. It’s clear that Whitman is growing bolder in her shameless attempt to buy this election. The fact that she would consort with controversial corporate figures like Samueli to fatten her already bloated war chest shows a serious lapse in judgment.
While many corporate insiders are aware of Broadcom’s troubles, Samueli’s past isn’t on the radar of most Californians. But given Whitman’s close ties to him and other corporate CEOs, it probably should be.
A look under the surface shows Whitman and Samueli have more in common than being billionaire CEOs. Both were corporate insiders whose companies were involved in questionable insider deals that made millions for executives at the expense of shareholders. Both Whitman and Samueli’s companies have been targets of federal investigations into the very same kind of shady Wall Street dealings that drove the economy into meltdown.
Samueli’s Broadcom was involved in the nation’s largest stock backdating scandal after it failed to disclose to investors that the company had reset the dates of company stock grants to executives in order to artificially boost profits. Broadcom’s backdating scheme resulted an SEC investigation, Samueli’s ouster, and Broadcom eventually paid $160.5 million in investor settlements. Samueli pleaded guilty to lying to federal investigators before, in an unusual move, a judge threw out the guilty plea. Samueli returned to Broadcom earlier this year as chief technology officer.
Of course, Whitman is no stranger to corporate scandals. Back in 2001, she was a Goldman Sachs board member who was directly involved in the decisions about executive bonuses and mortgage-backed securities that are now cited as major causes of the economic meltdown and the ensuing jobs crisis. Whitman pocketed almost $ 2 million by “spinning” sweetheart stock deals she scored as a reward for bringing Goldman lucrative investment banking contracts, a practice that soon became illegal.
Whitman resigned from the board after a Congressional probe into spinning but Goldman is still dealing with the aftermath of SEC investigations into the company’s shady dealings and recently coughed up more than $500 million to satisfy the charges.
It’s pretty easy to imagine the enormous influence corporate types like Samueli would have in a Whitman administration. It’s also deeply troubling that it’s that very type of influence Wall Street had with George W. Bush, and we all know the end to that story. If we’ve learned anything from the economic meltdown caused by Wall Street’s greed, it’s that when corporate insiders get too close to government power, working people pay the price.
The last thing California’s working families need is more of the same corporate greed and corruption that destroyed our economy. Cozying up to corporate insiders in order to get elected shows that Whitman remains tone-deaf to the growing concerns voters have about her Wall Street ties and agenda.
Paid for by the California Labor Federation. Not authorized by a candidate or committee controlled by a candidate.