October 20th, 2009
07:25 PM ET

Evening Buzz: CEO Perks Outrage

Maureen Miller
AC360° Writer

This will likely get you fired up. As some of the nation's biggest financial firms were getting billions of federal money to save them last fall, they were boosting their perks to company CEOs.

We're talking about personal use of corporate jets, free company cars, paid dues for country clubs - and some of them even got all the taxes paid on their perks.

Simply put, as the economy was sinking, their perks were going up.

Tonight, we're naming names. Find out which top executives at the time were getting extra loot. We'll tell you what CEO got almost $5 million in perks. Yes, $5 million. That's just one fat cat. There are many others.

Do you think the perks should be allowed or should the federal government clamp down on them? Sound off below.

We also have new details on the sweat lodge deaths in Arizona. A former follower of self-help guru James Arthur Ray is speaking out, sharing what she says goes on at his retreats. Three people have died as a result of the sweat lodge ceremony last week. Police are treating the deaths as homicides. Though, no charges have been filed.

And, don't miss Anderson's interview with actress and activist Eva Longoria Parker. Hear how she's trying to change the image of Latinos in Hollywood. It's all part of CNN's special report "Latinos in America", airing tomorrow and Thursday night at 9pm ET.

Join us tonight for these stories and much more starting at 10pm ET. See you then!

Filed under: Maureen Miller • The Buzz
soundoff (87 Responses)
  1. Mark

    The fallacy that runs rampant among big companies is that a top CEO is worth his salary toward a company's bottom line. Intel CEO Craig Barret was paid just $575k salary and $2.7M bonuses in 2000, in 2001, with the tech bubble bursting, his bonuses were cut to $1M. Barret stayed with the company through 2005 and overcame both the bubble and a recession to increase company revenue by more than 30%.

    There are intelligent, competent managers out there who will work for far less than the current CEO bozos and will accomplish the same if not more.

    October 20, 2009 at 11:37 pm |
  2. arizona

    Greed that's all it is. And you know what happens to people who think they are getting away with it.....just watch. They will have to answer to the Almighty God, so don't think they are getting away with it.

    Yep that was $300 million just to find out if the moon has water. As if we need another planet to take care of....look at this planet first and fix the mess that has been created.

    October 20, 2009 at 11:37 pm |
  3. Capitalist

    I dont think that CEO's of firms that received bailout money should get the usual perks. The contracts should be amended to reflect the speical circumstances. Remember though, CEO's are under contract and the perks are in the contracts. If the BOD's don't write them out of the contract then shame on them.
    If I ran a multi-billion dollar company and I performed to the standards of the contract, then I would want my bonuses! I don't think the gov't has any right or reason to intervene, unless they gave the firm bail out money. This is america! I want to be paid what Im worth, and if Im worth millions of dollars to a company then so be it.

    October 20, 2009 at 11:32 pm |
  4. Joe

    Here is the issue: These companies claim not doing well and that have to take drastic actions. This usually means firing the ones who do not make the bad decisions that require said actions. But the companies still have money to give millions to a single individual or a selected few. Is that reasonable? Again, these are the individuals who make the bad decisions that lead to these problems. And, please, do not bring in the “imagine if they had not done what they did; it would be even worse” excuse; everyone knows better than that.

    I am a regular joe. If I fail at work I could lose my job. These individuals do not perform well, keep their jobs and, to add insult to injury, get bonuses. If they move on they get even larger compensation.

    I do not mind people earning 7-figure salaries. But I would expect nothing less than a 7-figure performance. Always.

    October 20, 2009 at 11:31 pm |
  5. Holly

    I am sickened by the conscience of these CEO's. My husband works for a company that has been in debates over their contract with the workers. While waiting to hear what is going to happen with his job, the company is getting away with not paying the workers their yearly raises and bonuses. It is heart wrenching as a family, because the "big wigs" of the company ARE getting their hefty checks, raises, and bonuses. God bless us all!!!!

    October 20, 2009 at 11:29 pm |
  6. BiG

    I bust my hump everyday to make enough money to make ends meet, and if I'm really lucky I can save enough to retire without losing my home. Meanwhile, my tax dollars are flushed away making fat cats fatter. Then these same companies get fatter still by giving away our family's futures to foreign economies. They sound like a traitors to me...the founding fathers would be disgusted. I promise you what's going on is not what they intended. Does Mr. Wallstreet Moneybags really need another sports car or yacht? Hypothetically, that expense could pay the annual salaries for a team of regular joes and we'd be grateful for the chance to earn it. Propping up the economy may have been necessary, but in doing so, these CEO's are now responsible to US, blue collar America for how those funds are spent. The middle class supports this nation and I for one am T-I-R-E-D of being taken advantage of. So my question to our great leaders whom we elect and trust to oversee our future is...Who dropped the ball? I envision thousands of plump, well dressed, white collar public officials pointing at one another while enjoying oysters at a party "fund raiser". For too many, the American Dream is now either wrongfully dead or about who you can blade for a buck....right Bernie?

    October 20, 2009 at 11:28 pm |
  7. Bill

    When I hear average working folks worry about the federal budget deficit and wonder if the government can afford to fund health care for all citizens I have to cringe. Billionaires on Wall Street (and everywhere else) don't EVER worry about the deficit or anything else when the funds spent benefit them! I assure you all of this reality.

    Why are average folks such suckers?! Many of them don't want the government to provide them with decent, affordable, long term health care when billionaires will ransack the cupboards without a second thought. Crazy. They have been taught to be fools for so very long... It is a real shame.

    October 20, 2009 at 11:22 pm |
  8. donald smith

    wow i cant believe what happened with the sweat lodge i keep my prayers tonight for the family who have had a big loss.

    October 20, 2009 at 11:21 pm |
  9. patricia

    as a 27 year employee at a major wall st firm and bank, I am saddened as the industry never changes despite scandals, fines, crashes, excesses...management is like a cancer which won't quit .
    Shareholders/voters need an oppty to take a direct action without having to rely on a politician playing the same power games as the CEOs. Will they/we ever learn?

    October 20, 2009 at 11:21 pm |
  10. Matt

    Wake up people, we live in a capitalistic society, and this populist propaganda is nothing more than jealousy. If you're upset that one of these CEO's is making more than you are then perhaps you should have studied harder in high school or college or gotten yourself on a better career track. Compensation in corporate America is not a lottery ticket, it's not luck, it's a meritocracy where the best people make the most money. CEO compensation is decided by their board, and has to be competitive enough to lure top talent, even in a bad year. Are you upset these CEO's make more than you? Are you upset your 401k got hit? How about some of you start taking responsibility yourselves instead of blaming wall st and others. And one other thing: if you make less than $50k/yr then you DID NOT fund this bailout because you DON'T pay any material amount of taxes, so shut your mouth and maybe stop freeriding.

    October 20, 2009 at 11:20 pm |
  11. Rene

    Its infuriating that they have all this money and are being bailed out by the taxes of those under them the poor and the middle class. There should be a revolt against this. Their excuse is they need to keep these experience execs but there are many out there that are well over experience that would do it for a fraction over what they currently get paid. Its all about who they are hooking up, and pay backs to those within the circle of that society of the wealthy.

    October 20, 2009 at 11:19 pm |
  12. Susan Ferrell

    Banker are greedy and selfish, the more we pay them the worst they get. This needs to stop! Who are the people on these boards approving these huge salary's, fire them too! Look at what a horrible job they are doing!

    October 20, 2009 at 11:08 pm |
  13. Jimmy

    Where is the outrage when baseball players make $32 million working 4 hours a day for half a year. I really think congress should limit professional sport salaries.

    October 20, 2009 at 11:03 pm |
  14. Craig

    Quit complaining online and call or write your congressmen!!!! Correction – HARASS them about all the issues that are bothering you. I'm tired of getting emails and reading blogs about all the outrage in this country when I know that the people sending them around haven't taken the 10 minutes to write a letter or make a call. Start holding your elected officials responsible and to their word – the word that convinced you to elect them into office. Put your action where your mouth is. There are a lot of us that are being active and trying to get things done, but we need sheer numbers to increase our pull.

    October 20, 2009 at 11:03 pm |

    When did we become a nation serving an economy instead of an economy serving a nation. What is so terrible about the idea of a minimum wage and a maximum wage. I believe people would still become a CEO for 100 times what the least paid emplyee makes.
    We've lost sight of what made America strong; a large middle class and a equitable distribution of wealth.

    October 20, 2009 at 10:55 pm |
  16. Joanne

    I thought half of Wall Street was owned by the American people. If bailout money is invested than bonus time should be a payback to the Federal Government.

    October 20, 2009 at 10:45 pm |
  17. Cecil

    If you're looking for someone to blame, why not hold the parties responsbile that handled the loaning of the money. They were to stipulate how the loan was to be handled in detail. Goverment agencies not taking responsibility is how we got into trouble in the first place.........lets put the blame where it belongs.

    October 20, 2009 at 10:41 pm |
  18. Regis

    Making money is the game. These executives did what they are well paid to do. They convinced the American public and Government to give them not Millions or Billions but Trillions. Shakespeare and Neil Simon together couldn't of dreamed of such a plan. Now they want their Perks and Bonuses for a Job Well Done

    October 20, 2009 at 10:40 pm |
  19. PB

    What about our politicians and other gov't workers, 100% of their pay upon retirement at age 58, free healthcare coverage for life .... private industry benefits are nothing of the sort. I will need to work into my mid 60's before I can even think of retiring. We can't afford these perks. Need to change their benefits now to more closely match private industry.

    October 20, 2009 at 10:40 pm |
  20. ellen mazzoni

    What has happened to the Boards that over see these large corporations. Do the Chairmans and the Board of Directors not have any responsibility for these outrageous employment agreements. I'm all for great salaries and perks when companies are thriving and the whole company, and all the employees benefit, but these bonuses and salary perks do nothing to nurture loyalty and corporate decency. It only fosters greed and a lack of empathy. When is enough money, enough.

    October 20, 2009 at 10:36 pm |
  21. Norman

    I was in the lending industry for years.

    it was obvious to anyone with half a brain that massive loan fraud was going on.

    No one cared because the banks packaged the loans into neat sounding bundles called Collateralized Mortgage Obligations and sold them world wide. But not just as a whole loan portion. But some investors got Principal but no interest, some got Interest but no Principal and some got more or less risky slices.

    But again, if you really read the complex maths behind the ways they were sliced into sections it was obvious they were impossible to value!

    It was a nightmare waiting to happen.

    And it did.

    Meanwhile the clever people with PhDs in maths guessed at valuations!

    October 20, 2009 at 10:35 pm |
  22. Jim D

    The corporations own the politicians. No matter how many tea parties, town hall screaming matches or phone calls to Washington the American people make it is all in vain. Our government officials will always take care of their masters (the corporate fat cats) first. The general populace will always be doomed to be content with whatever scraps are left under the table.

    October 20, 2009 at 10:32 pm |
  23. B. Finn

    Why am I not supprised. Big Corporations run this country, those that were too big to let fail are now taking our tax dollars and paying CEO's bonuses while the small business I have is struggling to make ends meet. Small business creates most of the jobs in this country yet large corporations are the ones receiving coporate welfare and padding their bank accounts and pockets while doing so. It's our tax dollars that is being paid as bonuses to failed corporate CEO's, its time to hold them accountable. This has to stop.

    October 20, 2009 at 10:31 pm |
  24. Chris

    If the bonuses were already guaranteed via contract prior to the government involvement, the government should NOT be able to cancel them, bailout or not. It would be the company's fault for making them guaranteed, not the employee's. I'd hate to think that the government could step in at any moment and take away my already-earned, meager bonus, regardless of the amount.

    Now to the bailout. I'm in the club that says we shouldn't be giving these companies taxpayer bailouts in the first place. But even if we do, it's the government's responsibility to put in stipulations with that bailout money dictating how all FUTURE executive salaries, perks, and bonuses are handled. The company can take it or leave it. Same goes for the employee.

    October 20, 2009 at 10:31 pm |
  25. joe jones

    Why do we continue. To accept these greedy actions by so called leaders of our country? How about a personal audit of these crooks,I'm sure their equally greedy tax attorneys would not argue with the money they will make having the irs crawling thru these creeps tax returns. When will we wake up?

    October 20, 2009 at 10:29 pm |
  26. pat

    This is nothing new. I am 60 years old and have worked since I was 14. In my jobs, the bosses always promised rewards if we worked a little harder, more productivity, etc. However, when it was time to pass out the benefits, the bosses were always first in line and normally went thru the line 10times. The workers in this country have been economically raped for years and its not going to change. The bosses are busy cooking up the next scheme to steal money from us because they have the power and own all the politicians from the courthouse to the White House. Have a nice day!!

    October 20, 2009 at 10:27 pm |
  27. Bud

    Perks should be rewards for excellence in the eyes of the shareholders or be approved in advance as job related incentives at time of employment. Repayment of our govt. loans should always be made top priority in perk commitments.

    October 20, 2009 at 10:26 pm |
  28. madalyn

    The answer is very simple NO.
    These CEO'S should not be getting paid to make more mistakes. Heres a thought, Give them the boot for putting us in this hole and hire people who are competent. How about that.

    October 20, 2009 at 10:26 pm |
  29. Roger

    If a company never received any Tarp money, we have no say as to who they pay what. If they did receive Tarp (tax payer) money then they should receive an industry average salary, no bonus or perks, until the Tarp is paid back.

    October 20, 2009 at 10:24 pm |
  30. Robert

    You know, most of the CEO's are with these companies to do a job and should get paid for doing a good job ... work you take on the stress and work yourself to death for no pay? I don't think so. Stop being so self righteous and start being realistic ... if you have the qualifications, the skills/education and the gut to take on one the many thankless, highly criticized CEO positions in the country, go for it and pay yourself what you are worth!

    October 20, 2009 at 10:23 pm |
  31. Fenney Derden

    When is Obama's transperancy (ha) government going to get off its dead rear end and put a stop to high powered exectives robbing us blind? I'm looking forward to their names, they are shameless, but it will be good to have them suffer blame from their friends, neighbors, and the rest of us. Just hope Anderson furnishes their addresses.

    October 20, 2009 at 10:22 pm |
  32. Mr. B

    What a shame! These corporate thugs have absolutely no feelings for the common working class. Their goal and ambition is to take our last dime and give it to themselves. Our President and Congress better do something about this theft, and if they don't...the American people should vote them all out of office the first chance we get..

    October 20, 2009 at 10:22 pm |
  33. twp

    The problem is we have an old boy network protecting themselves at the cost of everyone else. They are one big union. The way to break them is by government action. The average salary of the CEOs have gone up from 17 times the average paid to workers to 330 times paid to the average worker. There is no relationship between performance and salary, so laws have to be passed to make sure this nonsense stops

    October 20, 2009 at 10:20 pm |
  34. Maggie

    Since these financial institutions are now making very decent profits, they need to be forced (because they won't do it voluntarily) to pay a decent percentage back to the United States of America. Also, anyone who received or will be receiving an obscene bonus, should be taxed at 100%. The government definitely needs to reinstate the regulations that the Bush administration destroyed.

    October 20, 2009 at 10:20 pm |
  35. JamesM

    why should the criminal mishandeling of tax money be any bigger of a shock today than in any other point in history? the people with the most influence over the us economy seem to be doing everything in their power to devalue the dollar.

    October 20, 2009 at 10:20 pm |
  36. John

    I think NASA should send another rocket to the moon, crash it and burn another $300 Million; this will save a lot of families from losing their homes in foreclosure.

    October 20, 2009 at 10:19 pm |
  37. Sally Enright

    What a sad, sorry state we have sunk to...Greed is the new "religion" and we all are supposed to worship at the altar of "Let's see how much money we can get...no matter what." What happened to values, morals, decency, kindness and responsibility? Sacrificed to our new religion...How tragic.

    October 20, 2009 at 10:18 pm |
  38. Jerry babic

    If its a public traded company, there has to be limits, until we learn to compensate respecfully. I just need $1M to retire, some get $5M a year in perks. The diffence in compensation is absurb, with no money going back into salaries that actually generate revenue. Making $100k these days is nothing. "at least for living in California". I don't know where people are getting money for housing, but it's out of reach in California, unless two have two damn good jobs that pay fairly.

    When did American agree that both people have to work just to get by. Who is saving money for thier kids college? We are doomed as a society in 20 years because no is putting displine in the children, making them work for honest wage, or educated them correctly.

    it's embarrasing just to an American, and that is just plain sick!

    October 20, 2009 at 10:17 pm |
  39. Brian

    No person is so necessary to a company to receive such ridiculous salaries and perks. This will not change until the American people organize and put a dent in the businesses that these CEOs work for. We need to stop waiting for the government to do something. I for one will be canceling my Bank of America card because of this.

    October 20, 2009 at 10:17 pm |
  40. Marvin Graham

    They ship our jobs over seas to third world countries. They put us out of work. They run the economy into the ground and they are rewarded with hugh raises, perks and golden parachutes. Since when did we stop putting criminals behind bars instead of heading corporations.

    October 20, 2009 at 10:17 pm |
  41. Phyllis Montana-Leblanc

    The Federal Government should clamp down on them. This is robbery and someone needs to have the guts to take them on full force. We can't just sit back and watch this happen. These guys seem to think they are "The Untouchables." Someone needs to show them they are.

    October 20, 2009 at 10:17 pm |
  42. Glenda

    My daughter-in-law works for Citi-bank. She says that the workers are having to train workers from India who are taking over their jobs. This certainly is not helping our employment situation when they are going to India to hire workers to take over the jobs of Americans and with taxpayers money. I can't say how upset I am over this situation.

    October 20, 2009 at 10:16 pm |
  43. John

    This is typical for the Americans, they talk about how much money it's being trashed on Monday by Tuesday morning everything is ok.

    October 20, 2009 at 10:15 pm |
  44. DA

    Thank you! Finally someone is saying it straight. Greed. We have to get back to integrity in our society that will pull us out of this mess.

    October 20, 2009 at 10:15 pm |
  45. jim

    As long as the companys own the gov. they'll just keep sticking to us.Wake up American people get our heads out of you know where and lets do something?????????

    October 20, 2009 at 10:14 pm |
  46. Isa

    When are we going to take action against those CEO from the money they pocketed out of tax payers and stop talking about. Action speaks louder than word. Let's put those guys in jail or demand the money back.


    October 20, 2009 at 10:14 pm |
  47. T.J.

    The rich will get richer and the poor will get poorer. There will no longer be a middle class. Our elected officals will assure that. They live off of perks themselves. So, How are they to govern and punish those who do the same. Dad was right. T.J.

    October 20, 2009 at 10:13 pm |
  48. Li2

    It's one thing for CEOs and other fat cats to make millions when their companies are profitable, it's another for them to earn even more when their company is in the red. The latter is unacceptable- even in a capitalism system. From another source, I can name 3 companies right now that just paid their CEOs big bucks for poor Co. performance; you can look up who the CEOs are. Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, Citigroup. 2 of which had gov. sponsored assistance.

    October 20, 2009 at 10:12 pm |
  49. TG

    You know, I'm over this. Was anyone outraged about these bonuses when the economy was doing well? NO.

    I guarantee that if you were working 20 hours a day running an international corp you would want bonuses too. Yes, these companies took federal money, but many of them already paid it back...and keep in mind these companies actually make money and they can do whatever they want with the money they earn. Are you going to turn down a raise or bonus at your job just because the economy is bad and your company is not doing well? Yeh right, of course you wouldn't, so get off your high horses...

    October 20, 2009 at 10:12 pm |
  50. alex lyrics

    When are we as Americans going to stop bending over and getting kicked in the rear, by this system of theft upon us and our fedral reseve??????????

    We are being robbed blind, our homes, our banks, our tax dollars, our savings, our 401 k's, our jobs, our healcare, and now this????

    We have to set back and watch as the money we gave to bail out companies and banks goes to bonuses????

    What the hell is going on??????

    Where are our balls? wheres the outrage AMERICA?????

    October 20, 2009 at 9:29 pm |
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