Saturday, June 13, 2009

Susan Bayh Gives Up Two Corporate Board Spots

Susan Bayh has been serving on a total of eight corporate boards, a feat that has put millions into the Sen. Evan Bayh family holdings. The Star's Maureen Groppe reports on Bayh's departure from two of those boards, E-Trade Bank and MDRA (formerly known as Nastech Pharmaceuticals). She still sits on the boards of Emmis Communications, Wellpoint, Golden State Foods, Curis, Dendreon and Dyax. The senator's wife has essentially been prostituted out to corporations during his political career to allow the family to live a lavish lifestyle they otherwise wouldn't be able to live on a senator's salary.

I've always found it interesting to compare the net worth of Bayh's family to Sen. Richard Lugar's family. Lugar is now worth only a couple of million, which means his actual net worth has declined since he became a U.S. Senator back in the 1970s if you factor in inflation. When Bayh first ran for public office in Indiana, he owned a used BMW and a downtown condominium worth less than a $100,000. Despite the fact the he's held public office continuously since then, except for a 2-year period he worked at the law firm of Baker & Daniels between being governor and senator, the Bayh family has made millions. He's relied heavily on his wife to build the family nest egg. She first worked as a corporate lawyer for Eli Lilly while he was governor despite the conflicts of interest that her employment posed. After the couple had children, she opted for the part-time corporate board route, in effect, becoming a professional corporate board member. The Bayh's financial statement, according to Groppe, claims their net worth is now between $4.6 million and $6.3 million. It was much higher than that in the past before the stock market took a dive. I still think that is still under-valuing their wealth. I suspect their three homes have a combined value of at least that amount.

I've always thought that a Republican opponent who used this issue effectively could turn Hoosiers against Bayh and send him packing. I suggested to former Fort Wayne Mayor Paul Helmke that he should use the issue against Bayh when he ran against him back in the 1990s. Helmke was more interested in landing a job at a big law firm than winning the senate seat as it turned out. He ran a pathetic campaign against Bayh just like every other Republican candidate who has ever taken him on has done. Evan Bayh's father, Birch Bayh, who represented the state in the Senate for 18 years, lost his seat to Dan Quayle, in part, because of allegations he accepted cash from South Korean lobbyist Tongsun Park in return for personal and South Korean favorable treatment. A Senate Ethics Committee investigation had concluded that Bayh neglected his duty for failing to report an offer of money from Park, although Bayh denied he actually received cash payments from Park as other congressmen had done.

Groppe's analysis of Bayh's and Lugar's financial disclosures can be viewed here.

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