Daily Archives: February 12, 2010

Senator Evan Bayh (D-IN) Should Start Speaking to His Wife: The $796,000 Payday for One Stock Trade by Gregory Hilton

Senator Evan Bayh (D-IN) appears to have a major conflict of interest and it is about time he starts talking to his wife about her business activities. The link below contains photos of two of their three homes. The 1000 square foot condo in Indiana is worth less than $60,000, and neighbors have not met the couple.
In Washington, DC the Senator lives in a residence currently assessed at $2,297,050 in an upscale neighborhood. The home is in the name of his wife Susan, “a professional Director,” who serves on numerous corporate boards. The couple also owns a $2.1 million beach-front home in Bethany Beach, Delaware.
Former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD) was in a similar situation in 2004, and it contributed to his defeat. Daschle’s DC home was listed as his principal residence on tax forms, instead of the very small rural house he owned next door to his mother.
The contrast between the South Dakota cottage and DC mansion was staggering. Bayh has not made the same mistake, and the Indiana condo is listed as his principal residence.
I am not outraged by the residency issue, and Republicans are guilty of the same behavior. Bayh’s probable GOP opponent, former Sen. Dan Coats, was out of Indiana for many years. Former Senator Mark Hatfield (R) listed an Oregon hotel room as his address while he resided in one of the finest homes in Georgetown.
The 2004 GOP Senate candidate against Barack Obama was clearly not an Illinois resident, and proved that immediately after his staggering loss. Democratic Senators Hillary Clinton and Robert F. Kennedy did not have strong ties to New York, and Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) claims his residence is an 800 square foot place in Cumming rather then the palatial homes he owns in northern Virginia and the Bahamas.
Senator Bayh’s approval rating is down, and this is especially true among independent voters. He avoided town hall meetings last summer when opposition mounted to the Obama agenda, and claimed he was too busy to meet with tea party organizers in Indianapolis.
Bayh’s GOP opponents will probably not make residency an issue, but political activists are starting to ask questions about his income, and this will not go unnoticed by the news media. For example, how does a Senator who earns $174,000/year and pays $43,000 in private school tuition and employs a full time nanny live in a $2.3 million home?
How has he gained so much wealth while working as public servant for the past 24 years? He has not inherited money, so how does he have a net worth between $4.3 million and $5.1 million? The only assets he owned when he first filed his candidacy for Indiana Secretary of State in 1986 were a very modest condo and a four year old BMW.
The answer is his wife Susan Bayh who never responds to questions regarding her professional life. She is an attorney who began serving on 14 corporate boards starting in 1994. She is now listed as a director of eight businesses, and is not otherwise employed.
Senators are not required to file specific financial reports. They only have to list their spouses income in broad ranges. We do not know Susan Bayh’s exact income, but what we do know is more than enough to raise eyebrows.
Her compensation from just one of those companies, WellPoint, was in excess of $350,000 in 2007. This is well above the median amount paid to directors of the largest U.S. corporations. In 2006, Susan Bayh was able to purchase 20,000 option shares from WellPoint for a price varying from $35.93 to $44.18 per share and sell them the very same day for a quick pre-tax profit of $796,000.
She earns more than $1 million/year in director fees and collected more than $1.7 million in exercised stock options from just two of the companies. According to the Ft. Wayne Journal Gazette, “Her actual income from exercising stock options is higher, but the details are not publicly reported.”
Susan Bayh serves on boards in the insurance, pharmaceutical, health insurance, banking and broadcasting industries. The newspaper listed several votes by the Senator which had a positive impact on the companies on which his wife serves.
When questions were raised by the Ft. Wayne paper, Bayh responded, “The reality is I don’t even know the people who run the vast majority of her companies. I’ve never even spoken to them. The reality is, we don’t talk about stuff that she’s involved with.”
The Center for Public Integrity says “Given that she has a high-profile role with corporations which could benefit from the legislative actions of her husband, there is definitely a potential for a conflict of interest.” Watchdog organizations Public Citizen and the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights echoed those concerns.
The issue of Susan Bayh’s employment was raised in a minor manner during the Senator’s 2004 re-election campaign. Bayh supporters responded by saying he was not one of those “fat cat Republicans.” Lets hope he makes that charge this year because listed below are the residences of some of his Democratic colleagues. Of the 10 wealthiest lawmakers, eight of them are Democrats.
Senators and the value of their primary residence:
John Kerry (MA) – $253 million
Jay Rockefeller (WV) – $82 million
Mark Warner (VA) – $74 million
Frank Lautenberg (NJ) – $48 million
Dianne Feinstein (CA) – $43 million
House of Representatives
Jane Harman (CA) – $112 million
Jared Polis (CO) – $71 million
Harry Teague (NM) – $41 million
Photo link to the Bayh homes and other residency documents: