Cheney: Fully Loaded
Thursday, May 21, 2009 at 6:00 am
Even if he doesn’t raise a dime from his political allies, Dick Cheney is well positioned to continue speaking out against the Obama administration’s national security agenda, according to the former vice president’s 2009 financial records.
Cheney filed his final financial disclosure form as a public official, known as his termination filing, with the Office of Government Ethics on Feb. 18, 2009, covering assets the ex-vice president possessed from Jan. 1 2008 to Jan. 20, 2009. The filing indicates Cheney is worth between $11 million and $50 million, with stock options held in such companies as Hewlett-Packard, Procter & Gamble, Lockheed-Martin and the oil-services company he ran during the 1990s, Halliburton. Determining Cheney’s precise net worth was not possible, due to the broad ranges in which filers can list the value of their assets.
TWI acquired the filing and is making it available here. “Here’s a guy who’s pretty well off,” said Bill Allison, a senior fellow at the Sunlight Foundation, an open-government advocacy organization. “This is not someone who by any means is poor or likely to go on the dole any time soon.”
During the span of Cheney’s vice presidency, he did not cash those stock options, meeting requirements for government service, assigning after-tax proceeds “irrevocably… to charity.” It appears that Cheney’s worth dipped from his previous year’s filing, in which he claimed assets worth between about $21 million and $99 million. Real estate previously claimed by Cheney in McLean, Va. — reported in his 2008 filing as valued at as much as $5 million — does not appear in the 2009 filing. The value of his 48,000 Halliburton shares, vested at $19.75 per share, are now filed as being worthless. On Cheney’s previous filing in 2008, he listed the value of those stock options between $1 million and $5 million. As of 11 a.m. on May 20, Halliburton shares traded for $23.09 per share.
The vagueness highlights a problem with the financial disclosure system, Allison said. At the time of Cheney’s filing, the intrinsic value of the stock “may have been zero,” but the form makes it difficult to evaluate precisely what the claim is intended to mean. “The idea of public disclosure is that the average citizen can understand whether a member of Congress or executive branch official has a conflict of interest, but these are not written in plain English,” he explained.
The filing also lists the value of gifts Cheney received during his final year in office. The Lucchese Boot Company of Hendersonville, Tenn. and the Oak Ridge Boys, a country band, jointly provided the former vice president with $631 worth of black cherry goat leather boots and three CDs, appraised at $631. His senior staff purchased the “Vice President’s Cabinet Chair” as a gift for him, valued at $1,190. Gordon England, who served as deputy secretary of defense in the Bush administration, gave Cheney, an avid fisherman, a $2,075 handmade split cane fly rod and matching wading staff. Former Treasury Secretary Nicholas Brady gifted him a Remington 12-gauge automatic shotgun worth $999. Members of the Boston Red Sox signed a baseball for Cheney, estimated at $3,500, after winning the 2007 World Series.
Cheney currently works out of an office in McLean, Va., provided by the government for six months to former presidents and vice presidents as they transition out of office. A spokeswoman for Cheney’s transition office did not reply to emailed questions about Cheney’s finances and post-transition plans for public life, including whether he anticipates raising money through speeches or other public appearances.
Since leaving office, Cheney has made a series of high-profile media appearances, granting interviews to CBS News and Politico, accusing the Obama administration of jeopardizing national security by planning to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility and renouncing the Bush administration’s torture policies. Cheney claimed to Politico that Obama officials were “more concerned about reading the rights to an Al Qaeda terrorist than they are with protecting the United States against people who are absolutely committed to do anything they can to kill Americans.” Obama political adviser David Axelrod replied to CNN, “It’s a little incredible to me that he would argue somehow that what we’re doing in forging and international alliance to finally pursue a strategy to defeat and dismantle al Qaeda in Afghanistan is going to make us less safe.”
Additionally, Cheney called on the Obama administration to declassify CIA memoranda that he contends vindicates the proposition that torture resulted in valuable intelligence. The CIA rejected the request on the grounds that the memoranda are the subject of ongoing litigation, and indicated that it might release the memoranda in the future alongside other documents that critics of the torture program contend cast doubt on the intelligence value of torture.
Allison pointed to the frequency of government officials “cashing in on their public” service by “addressing corporate groups, making speeches, or consulting,” though it was too early to see whether Cheney planned on going that route. “He certainly doesn’t have to,” Allison added. “He could become a freelance commentator on Fox News. He appears to be well set for the rest of his life.”
Cheney is scheduled to speak before the American Enterprise Institute, a sympathetic conservative think tank, on the subject of national security Thursday morning.
Research assistance provided by Aaron Wiener.
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