The Campaign Spot

Bill Richardson: “I Had To Earn a Living.”

More advice for Bill Richardson, and all politicians, really: Avoid the phrase, “I had to earn a living.” It sounds too much like NBA star Latrell Sprewell saying “I have to feed my family” during a contract holdout.

MR. RUSSERT:  Governor, when you left your position as secretary of energy, however, you did join two boards—Valero Energy and Diamond Offshore Drilling. Valero Energy, as you know, they are very much involved in refinering—refining.  The chairman, then CEO, Bill Greehey, boasted that tighter supplies of gasoline “had provided outstanding profit margins for us. The outlook for the next year is even better,” as the Boston Herald says, which means for car drivers even worse.  You have significant stock holdings in that company.  Would you divest yourself of a company that is bragging about all the money they made over higher gasoline prices?
GOV. RICHARDSON:  Well, I already got rid of the stock.
MR. RUSSERT:  It’s gone?
GOV. RICHARDSON:  Yeah.
MR. RUSSERT:  Do you regret going on their board?
GOV. RICHARDSON:  No.  No, I don’t.  I have to earn a living.  I left—remember, when we left the Clinton administration in 2000, I had to earn a living.

It sounds awful when any elected official complains he about the difficulties of earning a living. Because Richardson was doing pretty well for a government employee. In 1999, cabinet secretaries made $157,000. While Richardson worked at the U.N., the maximum salary was $136,700. From the July 24, 1997 Washington Post:

“United Nations Ambassador Bill Richardson, the former congressman, lists only a bank account containing between $1,000 and $15,000 in addition to rental income from his home in New Mexico.”

(Lawmakers only have to disclose their assets within a range.) But by 1998, the Post was reporting:

Richardson was U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and lived in New York in 1997, the period covered by the most recent disclosure statements. He listed among his assets a home in Washington valued between $500,000 and $1 million. But since he has returned to Washington to take over at Energy, that is now Richardson’s primary residence. Not counting the Washington home, Richardson’s only other assets are rental property in New Mexico worth between $250,000 and $500,000 and $15,000 to $50,000 in checking and savings accounts.

Not too shabby.

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