44 The Obama Presidency
Summers Raked in Speaking Fees from Wall Street
By Philip Rucker
Lawrence Summers, the chairman of President Obama's Council of Economic Advisers, collected roughly $5.2 million in compensation from hedge fund D.E. Shaw over the past year and was paid more than $2.7 million in speaking fees from several troubled Wall Street firms and other organizations.
Financial disclosure forms released late Friday by the White House show that many of Obama's top aides earned generous salaries, investment income and fees for delivering speeches and serving on corporate boards. National Security Adviser James L. Jones, for example, earned $1.1 million last year board compensation from five corporations, including Boeing Corp.
Two of Obama's closest advisers from Chicago earned large sums as well. David Axelrod, Obama's chief political strategist, received $1.55 million in compensation from the public affairs firms he co-owned and agreed to sell his ownership stake for $3 million over five years, his form shows. Senior adviser Valerie Jarrett earned $850,000 in salary and deferred compensation from Habitat Executive Services, Inc., as well as $346,687 in directors' fees from groups including Navigant Consulting and manufacturing firm USG Corp., according to the documents.
But Summers, a leading architect of the administration's economic policies and response to the global recession, appears to have collected the most income. Financial institutions including JP Morgan, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, Lehman Brothers and Merrill Lynch paid Summers for speaking appearances in 2008. Fees ranged from $45,000 for a Nov. 12 Merrill Lynch appearance to $135,000 for an April 16 visit to Goldman Sachs, according to his disclosure form.
In addition to his $5.2 million in salary and other compensation from D.E. Shaw, Summers received $586,996 in salary from Harvard University, where he is a president emeritus and worked as an economics professor until January, the document shows.
In 2008, Summers made a total of about 40 speaking engagements to corporations, universities, trade associations and other groups, even as he informally advised Obama's presidential campaign. But White House aides said the speeches occurred before he joined the Obama transition team in an official capacity.
White House spokesman Ben LaBolt said Summers recognized that the global financial system "faced a moment of peril and he laid out detailed plans to inject necessary spending, step up regulation, ease home foreclosures and keep markets open to encourage growth."
"Given that Dr. Summers is widely recognized as one of the country's most distinguished economists and formerly served as treasury secretary, there was considerable interest in hearing his economic insights from companies across various industries," LaBolt added.
Posted at 8:17 PM ET on Apr 3, 2009
44 The Obama Presidency
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