Leon Panetta saw a lot during his years in Congress and the Clinton White House, and forms released Tuesday show that people are willing to pay a lot to hear him talk about his experiences.
Panetta, whose nomination to be CIA director will go before the Senate Intelligence Committee Thursday afternoon, last year earned $250,000 on the speaking circuit and another $790,000 in fees from consulting fees and board directorships, according to a disclosure statement he filed with Office of Government Ethics.
In all, Panetta, who developed a reputation as a bipartisan policy and budget expert in government, reported earning more than $1.2 million last year from various private sector activities and investments.
Economic meltdown victims Merrill Lynch paid him $56,000 for a pair of talks – one of which came after Bank of America had moved to buy the struggling financial services firm. Wachovia also paid for Panetta talks, as did the defense firm Carlyle Group.
The Pacific Maritime Association paid him $60,000 as “governmental adviser,” which an Obama aide said was for advice on port security issues, not for lobbying.
Panetta, who reported assets worth between $1.5 million and $3.7 million, served on a hodgepodge of high-powered corporate boards last year, including international energy giant BP Corporation (which paid him $125,000 last year) and public relations behemoth Fleishman Hilliard ($120,000).
He also sat on the boards of two insurance companies: Blue Shield of California, which paid him $93,000 and Zenith National Insurance, which paid $170,000 and in which he owns as much as $350,000 in stock. And he pulled down $11,500 for being a director of Corinthian Colleges, a chain of colleges accused of misleading students.
But perhaps his highest profile role since he ended his tenure as President Clinton’s chief of staff in 1997 was as co-director of the Leon & Sylvia Panetta Institute for Public Policy. Panetta and his wife Sylvia founded the non-profit think tank in 1998 near their home on California’s Central Coast, but neither reported receiving any income from it.
Sylvia Panetta’s salary comes from a company called Leon Panetta & Associates, according to the financial disclosure report. Her husband reported receiving consulting fees of $150,000 from the chancellor’s office at California State University, which houses the institute at the school’s Monterey Bay campus.
Panetta represented the Central Coast in the U.S. House for 16 years. And he maintained financial ties to the area, including a share Monterey office building worth as much as $250,000. He also reported earning $50,000 as a professor at his alma mater, Santa Clara University, and a total of $20,000 for directorships with the Commonwealth Club, a California public affairs nonprofit, and the association representing the inns of Monterey.