First public peek at Meg Whitman’s money

March 13, 2010

Former Ebay chief Meg Whitman would like to be the next governor of California. To do so, she faces at least three main challenges: (1) defeating Steve Poizner in the June Republican primary, (2) defeating Democrat Jerry Brown in the November general election, and (3) overcoming public concerns about her vast wealth and financial holdings.

Whitman provided the first public glimpse into her financial portfolio last week when she filed a state economic-interest disclosure form required of all candidates. [Los Angeles Times].

Last fall, Forbes magazine listed Whitman as the 326 richest American, with an estimated net worth of $1.2 billion. Her disclosure, filed with the California Fair Practices Commission, reveals that Whitman currently has 214 active investments.

Analysts suggest that Whitman has invested her wealth primarily in firms that sought to profit from the country’s credit crisis, in venture capital and hedge funds open only to the wealthy, and in oil, gas, healthcare, and other major concerns seeking to influence public policy.

“Whitman’s portfolio could be confused with that of a multi-billion dollar pension fund,” writes the Times. “The private equity funds in which she invests, which are risky but in good years yield double-digit returns, tend to be open only to big institutions and the rich.”

Whitman’s holdings include multi-million dollar stakes in oil, gas, real estate, health care, and information technology–all industries who do business regularly in Sacramento. She has also placed millions in firms such as Natural Gas Partners and the Carlyle/Riverstone Energy and Power Fund, which invests heavily in oil exploration and production industries.

The vast holdings provide potential conflicts of interest should Whitman be elected governor, but a spokesperson stated that the candidate is prepared to move her portfolio in a blind trust, just as Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has done.


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18 Comments

  1. thinkaboutit says:

    Money aside, I’d like to see at least one viable pro-life candidate. Some constituents actually believe in allowing future tax payers to live long enough to work and, you know, contribute to the coffers.

    (-8) 16 Total Votes - 4 up - 12 down
  2. BeenThereDoneThat says:

    Here is the really sad state that we are in and it is not in the article. It is in our responses.

    If someone uses donations and little of their money, we distrust them as being bought. Not saying it isn’t true or possible.

    If someone uses their own money, we distrust them as having bought the election. Again not saying it isn’t true or possible.

    But here is the rub people. We are making a damned if you do damned if you don’t sitution. So with this if we don’t like ANY of the above then WHO in the hell are we ever going to vote for???

    We have to get past this mindset no matter how right or wrong and go to their subtext of issues if we are ever going to get something of some type of Government. We are NEVER going to have perfect elected officials. Only people who know people or have money can run. That is a fact!! Otherwise why don’t we see some nobodies? Name recognition works like it or not. So we have to work best we can with the issues to get to that point. If I am wrong, please point it out to me.

    (15) 15 Total Votes - 15 up - 0 down
    • hotdog says:

      I’ll rise to that challenge. As ‘nobodies’ get their message out money flows in from the common man who respects the message. Obama raised lots of dough in bits and pieces, at least in that case he is not beholden to a single special interest but rather the masses who contributed and voted for him. We need a system in between the two extremes pointed out in the post above.
      Both Poizner and slim whitman have billions of dollars made in private industry.
      On the other hand Jerry Brown (and his father before him) has spent most of his life in public service. I imagine most of his campaign funds will come from nickels and dimes from the mainstay of this nation, the average citizen who wants a better life without screwing the less fortunate. The ‘moonbeam’ jokes have already started, too bad. I remember when Jerry was governor, he was a frugal leader who refused Limousines, exotic hotel lodging and other perks of the job. He was a man of the people.

      (7) 19 Total Votes - 13 up - 6 down
      • BeenThereDoneThat says:

        Ah conversational debate. I love it. Yes you are right about Brown. He has dedicated his life to public service and I applaud him for that. That said I remember the first time around Brown. Been there done that. (Pun intended) He was mediocre. Don’t need to see again.

        On Obama. So far from what I can see he is unicumbered by special interests but also he is not much of a uniter as he sold himself to the people as, hence WHY he got elected.

        So I don’t see much of an arguement that even with what you proposed we have gotten any better results. I would love better results but still haven’t seen either way tried and true or new.

        (0) 6 Total Votes - 3 up - 3 down
        • hotdog says:

          I wish I had a refreshing or dramatic reply. The cynicism expressed by BTDT is hard to contest. Wasn’t it Einstein who said, “I am optimistic about the possibilities and pessimistic about the probabilities”? That sums up my feelings.

          (2) 8 Total Votes - 5 up - 3 down
          • BeenThereDoneThat says:

            Hotdog. Yea when it comes to politics I am getting more cynical. The irony is that most all who know me find me to be one of the more optimistic people they know. Of course unless politics. Even then I try but realism always sneaks in.

            I for one would like to see this county back to a time like the late 50’s and early 60’s that even when we disagree, we try to find common ground between the parties. Things like the interstate system, the moon shot. You know, BIG IDEAS. We are giving up as a country to China, India, etc. as we all sit and bicker over the small picture instead of the larger picture. Till that happens I don’t hold much hope.

            (5) 5 Total Votes - 5 up - 0 down
            • hotdog says:

              I gave you a thumbs up. Those were the days when some civility played a role in our political lives. Seems to be gone now.

              (1) 1 Total Votes - 1 up - 0 down
  3. rogerfreberg says:

    California is on the edge and everyone knows it and it will take more than a governor to change the direction of where we are going… it takes a village to raise this child.

    Governor ‘Moonbeam’ had two great accomplishments while governor: 1) assigning a very young attractive woman to transportation who implemented the ‘diamond’ lanes and 2) dating Linda Ronstadt. With all his good intentions, I really don’t see him as helping California.

    As for Meg Whitman and Steve Poizner, I would like to know who is on their team? I would also like to know how they will overcome what our current Governor failed to do in 2 terms? A governor should be more that a brake. What have they earned?

    Yeah, we need a whole lot more questions asked other than WHY we shouldn’t elect their opponent.

    Roger Freberg

    (0) 8 Total Votes - 4 up - 4 down
    • SanSimeonSam says:

      Lets not forget that moonbeam gave us Rose Bird (or was it the Bird) as chief justice of the state supreme court. That was a tragic miscarriage. I would vote for Sarah Palin before Moonbeam and i have a houseplant smarter than Palin. One note Megs ads against Poziner are as dirty as any I have ever seen. She may not be a professional politician yet but she is sure learning quickly. All attack all lies and no substance. Wonder why we havent heard from Poizner yet ? Doesnt he have money?

      (3) 3 Total Votes - 3 up - 0 down
  4. coyote says:

    This is not a story. It is an editorial with an agenda .

    (9) 25 Total Votes - 17 up - 8 down
  5. willie says:

    When Obama was running against McCain, and the financial breakdown occurred, I asked myself “Who in their right mind would want to be president?”
    California is in a big mess, I am asking the same question again!
    I do not believe in black magic or a silver bullet.
    What can Meg do in one term of officer?

    (-2) 8 Total Votes - 3 up - 5 down
    • hotdog says:

      The eternal question-are the candidates for President and governor crazy, power mad or altruistic folks who really care and want to help? I sure don’t know. Most of us groveling at the bottom of the barrel have little idea of the thrills and challenges those people face but it doesn’t look like fun to me. What I do know is I don’t like big money determining my future. We must have campaign finance reform so a level playing field will allow intelligent, caring, honest and average people to serve us in government.
      I always check those boxes on my tax form to send money to that end. If we could get the corporations, unions and other large entities out of the loop, cut way back on those damn lobbyists and limit campaign expenditures we would have much better government.

      (2) 10 Total Votes - 6 up - 4 down
  6. ds_gray says:

    This is a no-news issue. Her holdings have been well known since she was listed in Forbes magazine – a very popular publication – at #326. The investment holdings were no secret. How her portfolio was diversified might be a surprise (sounds like a good plan to me) but ALL politicians who are elected to higher office put their investments into blind trusts and have done so for decades. Her net worth shows she has skills as a businesswoman, and those skills will be put to good use in Sacramento should she be elected. Our current governor made his fortune looking good in front of a camera – see where that got us! I wouldn’t elect a destitute person to take the job, so @hotdog your comments regarding giving money away, charity and the like are laughable. What does speculation about Ms. Whitman’s charitable giving have to do with the fact that she has done well in business – as anyone living in this democratic (er – constitutional republic) country could do? She’ll be elected on her merits and guile just like every other politician. And for the record, power plays are called POLITICS – except in hockey.

    (-2) 18 Total Votes - 8 up - 10 down
    • hotdog says:

      Charitable giving indicates a caring attitude, and one of sharing the bountiful harvest one might have reaped from success (however ill gained). Does she have an ethical standard? And of course I made no comparison with giving and business rewards. She will be elected (if she is) on her money, not merit or guile, everyone knows that. Take away the money and she will disappear.
      I am a partisan on one side, there are plenty on the other. But reality is just that and cannot be denied with any foolish words. I imagine as time goes on more news will spill out about her business ethics and other important (to me) aspects of her life. As I pointed out and was so cleverly ignored by the post I respond to she has certainly not acted like a responsible citizen in a very important way-by voting.
      Though Arnie is seen as just another hollywood personality he is a shrewd businessman with many investments.

      (-2) 14 Total Votes - 6 up - 8 down
    • bobfromsanluis says:

      Are you serious? This is a “no-news issue”? To those who read Forbes or pay close attention to those who make or have a lot of money, this may not be “news” to them, but for the rest of us, how do we even relate to that much money? If elected she would be required, by law I believe, to put her holdings into a blind trust, but do you honestly believe that she wouldn’t “know” how her investments would be affected by decisions she would make as governor? While I am not trying to assert that she would make decisions solely based on how her holdings would be affected, she is only human and there would have to “some” consideration in her decision making. You also make the assumption that her net worth somehow “proves” she is a good business person; is her “skill” at making good business decisions for the companies she has run, or is it making decisions that are “good” only for her net worth? As far as her “skills” being put to good use in Sacramento, please remember that a governor is not a CEO, a state government is not a business, and the two do not necessarily mix well. A Governor has rules, laws and restrictions on how they conduct doing the job of governing, a CEO is required by law to attempt to make the most profit they can for a companies stock holders and board of directors, and comparing how businesses are run and how government works is comparing apples and oranges. Your assertion that ” … she has done well in business – as anyone living in this democratic …” belies the reality that there is a lot more too being “successful”; there is a certain amount of luck, having the ability to make the right “connections” to get yourself noticed by those that can help you, and nothing helps someone make money like already having a fair amount to build on; not everyone gets that same “chance”. You then close with the assertion (your hope, most likely) that “she’ll be elected on her merits and guile …” , but you don’t mention how she will, if she gets caught up enough to really go after it, the ability to spend a near limitless amount of money to “buy” the election result she wants. Do you think the same holds for the mayor of New York City, Richard Bloomberg? California doesn’t need a “CEO”, we need someone who can get the state government to function in a more productive manner while not cutting out every single state program that doesn’t somehow help your rich friends and business associates.

      (1) 17 Total Votes - 9 up - 8 down
  7. hotdog says:

    Well, she is certainly doing a great job at buying the governorship with all the fancy ads. I hope the voters will wonder about her investments not available to the average Joe -AND- the fact she wants us to vote for her even though she didn’t even register to vote until she was 46 years old!!! And she is running as a repo but only registered as one two years ago.
    Isn’t that amazing? She could not be bothered to participate in our democratic and electoral process, too busy making money. Money that should have gone to average Americans instead of into her coffers. I wonder if she has ever given anything to charity, or does she hoard everything for herself and her power plays?

    (2) 20 Total Votes - 11 up - 9 down
    • racket says:

      Hotdog:The “investments not available to the average joe” is a plant, ie, something to sully Whitman’s reputation.

      It is in the exact same vein that investors were not supposed to be allowed to invest in Estate Financial unless they could prove sufficient assets to show that they can recover from a tanking investment. Estate Financial, among many many other bad things, failed to ensure its investors were sufficiently wealthy to make those high-risk-high-return investments.

      Pretty standard-issue stuff for venture funds, but clearly someone is trying to get some mileage from it.

      (2) 8 Total Votes - 5 up - 3 down

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