Cheney Violates Ethics Law
“These are not times for leaders who shift with the political winds, saying one thing one day and another, the next.” -- Dick Cheney###
On the Sept. 14, 2003 edition of NBC's Meet the Press, Vice President Dick Cheney said, "And since I left Halliburton to become George Bush's vice president, I've severed all my ties with the company, gotten rid of all my financial interest. I have no financial interest in Halliburton of any kind and haven't had, now, for over three years."
But, just as Cheney's wild claims about weapons of mass destruction turned out to be untrue and his claim that Halliburton had no ties to Saddam Hussein was bogus, his denial about profiting from Halliburton as vice president was also a bald-face lie. So while Cheney denied any relationship with Halliburton as vice president, he conveniently forgot to mention that he continues to receive from the company deferred salary of over $150,000 while maintaining 433,333 shares of unexercised stock options. Certainly, Cheney has a "financial interest in Halliburton" while working as vice president.
When confronted with the proof of his ongoing financial ties with Halliburton, Cheney responded by claiming his deferred salary and stock options are not actually a "financial interest" as defined by federal ethics standards and therefore not a conflict of interest. This prompted the Congressional Research Service to issue a report which confirmed Cheney's ongoing financial interest in Halliburton "is considered among the 'ties' retained in or 'linkages to former employers' that may 'represent a continuing financial interest' in those employers which makes them potential conflicts of interest."
Caught in another lie, Cheney manufactured another excuse: He said the financial interest in Halliburton is not tied to the success or failure of the company because of an insurance policy. In other words, the insurance policy, which guarantees his financial interest will be paid to him regardless of Halliburton's success or failure, is proof there is no quid-pro-quo. He also said the stock options will be donated to charity, rather than used for his personal gain.
It's clear that Cheney broke the ethics law, but both the president and vice president are exempt from the enforcement of such laws. Therefore, Cheney cannot be prosecuted for his conflict of interest or his lie.
DEFERRED SALARY: Cheney received $205,298 in deferred salary from Halliburton in 2001, $162,392 from the company in 2002 and $178,437 in 2003. Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) said, "Deferred salary is not a retirement benefit or a payment from a third party escrow account, but rather an ongoing corporate obligation paid from company funds."
STOCK OPTIONS: The Vice President has signed an agreement to donate any profits from his stock options to charity, and has pledged not to take any tax deduction for the donations. Should Halliburton's stock price increase over the next few years, the Vice President could exercise his stock options for a substantial profit, benefiting not only his designated charities, but also providing Halliburton with a substantial tax deduction.
Halliburton Stock Options Currently Held by Cheney (current to end of 2002):
100,000 shares at $54.5000 (vested), expire 12-03-07; 33,333 shares at $28.1250 (vested), expire 12-02-08; 300,000 shares at $39.5000 (vested), expire 12-02-09.
Cheney's deferred compensation and stock option benefits are in addition to a $20 million retirement package paid to him by Halliburton after only five years of employment; a $1.4 million cash bonus paid to him by Halliburton in 2001; and additional millions of dollars in compensation paid to him while he was employed by the company.
In 2002, Cheney's total assets were valued at between $19.1 million and $86.4 million.
CRS Report that Confirms that Cheney Deferred Salary and Stock Options Constitute a "Financial Interest in Halliburton
CBS News: Cheney's Halliburton Ties Remain
Reuters: Cheney took in $178,437 from Halliburton in 2003