Fiorina: I Received Only A $21 Million Severance Package — Not $42 Million

Making an attempt to address the current financial crisis in Florida yesterday, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) offered what he called “straight talk,” saying he will “put an end to the greed that has driven our markets into chaos” and “stop multi-million dollar payouts to CEOs who have broken the public trust.”

During an interview with Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (D-FL) today on MSNBC, host Andrea Mitchell said that McCain “sounds like a Democrat.” “He sounds like a hypocrite,” Wasserman-Schultz replied, citing Carly Fiorina as McCain’s top adviser:

WASSERMAN-SCHULTZ: Well he sounds like a hypocrite because he has got a group of lobbyist and corporate interests running his campaign including Carly Fiorina, who walked away when she left Hewlett-Packard with $45 million including a $21.5 million severance package.

Later on MSNBC, Fiorina wryly dismissed Wasserman-Schultz’s criticism, saying it’s “not true” that she received a $40 million plus “severance package” from HP. Watch it:

Fiorina is technically right. She didn’t get a $40 million plus “severance.” She left HP with only a $21 million severance. But she also walked away with an additional $21 million in stock options and pension benefits, as the New York Times reported in 2005:

Carleton S. Fiorina, the former chief executive of Hewlett-Packard, will receive a severance package worth about $21.4 million, and stands to gain at least $21.1 million more.

The additional amount reflects the estimated value of her pension, stock options and Hewlett stock holdings, which the company did not include in her severance package.

But Wasserman-Schultz is also right in that McCain “sounds like a hypocrite” saying he’ll “stop multi-million dollar payouts to CEOs” when his top adviser can see the difference between her $42 million and $21 million severance in the midst of a financial crisis.

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