Meg Whitman's governor bid yoked to eBay past

'Pile of potential conflicts'

As CEO of eBay, Meg Whitman steered millions of dollars into the coffers of Goldman Sachs. Over the same period, she profited handsomely from the investment firm, receiving an estimated $475,000 and coveted insider access to initial public offerings for a little more than a year's worth of of part-time service.

The cushy relationship could create conflicts of interest should Whitman win her bid to become California's next governor, according to an investigation published by California Watch. As underwriter to more than 2 percent of the California bonds issued over the past five years, it is second only to Merrill Lynch in underwriting state bonds.

With Goldman such a major player, Whitman would face "a pile of potential conflicts of interest" if she becomes governor, Doug Heller, spokesman for Consumer Watchdog of Santa Monica, told the news outlet, which is a project of the Center for Investigative Reporting.

Wall Street critics also say Whitman's dealings with firm call into question her judgment. While on Goldman board of director's compensation committee it twice signed off on big bonus packages for then CEO Henry Paulson, including a 2001 bonus package of $11.5m, more than 19 times his salary.

Whitman was among 21 business executives who in 2002 were identified by US Representative Michael Oxley of Ohio as receiving lucrative IPO shares from Goldman and two other firms in exchange for giving them bond business. Whitman and other execs eventually paid $3m to settle shareholder lawsuits that claimed that the proceeds should have gone to eBay.

Whitman's campaign attorney said the conflict concerns were overblown and that if elected she would dump her Goldman stock and put the rest of her portfolio into a blind trust.

Much more from California Watch is here. ®

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