This principled stance against excessive executive compensation, however, is undermined by the fact that McCain’s senior economic adviser and former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina received $42 million dollars in compensation after being fired from HP. On NBC this morning, host Meredith Vieira noted that Fiorina “is an example of exactly the kind of person you say is at the root of the problem.” McCain replied, “I don’t think so”:
McCAIN: I don’t think so. … Because I think she did a good job as CEO in many respects. I don’t know the details of her compensation package. But she’s one of many advisers that I have.
Q: But she did get a $45 million dollar golden parachute after being fired while 20,000 of her employees were laid off.
McCAIN: I have many of the people, but I do not know the details of what happened.
“How can you not know the details of her past? I mean, that would be awfully important,” Vieira responded. Watch it:
Nor is McCain’s statement that Fiorina did a “good job” as CEO of Hewlett-Packard quite accurate. The board of HP fired Fiorina in 2005, concluding “that she was spending too much time on the road, neglecting the nuts-and-bolts execution of her own strategic ideas,” according to the New York Times. “[H]er superstar status was also her undoing.”
As CEO, Fiorina parked profits overseas using tax shelters, even though it negatively impacted the economy. The company held more than $14 billion overseas in 2004, according to the Washington Post. The Wall Street Journal noted that her tenure was “marked by a drop in morale at a company with a legendary history of a collegial culture.”
Fiorina’s golden parachute and her rocky tenure at HP, however, don’t seem to matter to McCain, who does “not know the details of what happened.”