McCain Economic Adviser Carly Fiorina’s Golden Parachute

By Jennifer Parker

Sep 16, 2008 11:34am

ABC News’ Lisa Chinn and Jennifer Parker report: Republican ticket mates John McCain and Sarah Palin Monday blasted corporate executives who leave their company with a "golden parachute"  and pledged to "stop multimillion dollar payouts" to CEOs, seeming to forget their own top economic adviser Carly Fiorina walked away with $45 million, including a $21.4 million severance package when she was dismissed by Hewlett Packard in 2005.

"We are going to reform the way Wall Street does business and put an end to the greed that has driven our markets into chaos," McCain said at a campaign rally in Florida Monday, as Wall Street reeled with the news that brokerage firm Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy and Merrill Lynch was sold to Bank of America.

"We will stop multimillion dollar payouts to CEO’s who have broken the public trust. We will put an end to running Wall Street like a casino. We will make businesses work for the benefit of their shareholders and employees. And we will make sure that your savings, IRA, 401k and pension accounts are protected,” McCain said.

Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin,  echoed McCain’s comments almost verbatim as she campaigned on her own in Golden, Colo., Monday.

"John McCain and I we’re going to put an end to the mismanagement and abuses and on Wall Street that have resulted in this financial crisis," Palin said Monday. "We are going to reform the way Wall Street does business and stop multi-million dollar payouts and golden parachutes to CEOs who break the public trust."

The McCain campaign was asked by ABC News to clarify what a McCain administration would do to "stop multimillion dollar payouts" to CEOs.

McCain spokesman Brian Rogers said McCain supports allowing company shareholders to vote on CEO compensation. However it’s unclear how any president could enforce such a measure within a private company. 

"What he supports is making sure that shareholders can vote on CEO compensation, right now he’s saying they don’t," McCain spokesman Brian Rogers told ABC News.

McCain’s top economics adviser Carly Fiorina, a McCain campaign surrogate who made the rounds on the Sunday morning talk shows this past weekend and appeared on CNN Monday speaking for McCain, herself benefited from a multimillion dollar payout.

Fiorina was dismissed as the CEO of Hewlett Packard in 2005 after a merger with Compaq floundered, stock prices plunged 50 percent, and 20,000 people were layed off. Fiorina walked away with a $21.4 million severance package.

Asked whether McCain was talking about CEOs like Fiorina, McCain’s top adviser who walked away with millions in compensation as her company’s stock price plunged, Rogers said McCain was "talking about the issues that are before us today."

"We’re talking about Freddie and Fannie and CEOs like Jimmy Cayne of Bear Stearns, Angelo Mozilo at Countrywide, folks that are largely responsible for what happened and walk away with this kind of multimillion dollar payout," Rogers said.

"I don’t think there’s any analogy there," Rogers said referring to Fiorina.

UPDATE: Obama has co-sponsored a bill with eight other Democrats that is currently before the Senate Banking Committee, S.1181, that would amend the Securities Act of 1934 to include a separate shareholder vote on executive compensation. McCain is not a co-sponsor.

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