Wednesday, February 4, 2009

WSJ NEWS ALERT: CIA Nominee Panetta Earned $700,000 in Fees in 2008


WASHINGTON -- The White House's nominee for director of the Central Intelligence Agency, Leon Panetta, has earned more than $700,000 in speaking and consulting fees since the beginning of 2008, with some of the payments coming from troubled banks and an investment firm that owns companies that do business with federal national security agencies.

Mr. Panetta received $56,000 from Merrill Lynch & Co. for two speeches and $28,000 for an Oct. 30, 2008 speech for Wachovia Corp. Both firms suffered big losses last year and were acquired by larger banks.

The Wachovia honorarium was on Oct. 30, while the last Merrill Lynch honorarium was on Oct. 11, according to disclosure forms filed by Mr. Panetta in connection with his nomination. At the time, Bank of America had already agreed to a rescue of Merrill Lynch, while Wachovia had agreed to be acquired by Wells Fargo & Co.

Mr. Panetta also received a $28,000 honorarium from the Carlyle Group, which owns a number of companies that do business with the national-security agencies of the U.S. government.

Mr. Panetta is a former congressman from central California who served as White House chief of staff under President Bill Clinton. A White House spokesman for Mr. Panetta didn't immediately respond to inquiries about the disclosures.

Mr. Panetta also reported receiving a $60,000 "Governmental Advisor Fee" from the Pacific Maritime Association, which represents the shipping industry. The group lobbies the federal government regarding terrorism laws that affect shipping. A spokesman for the association didn't respond to a request for comment.

Another big source of income for Mr. Panetta was California State University, Monterey Bay, which hosts his nonprofit foundation, the Leon & Sylvia Panetta Institute for Public Policy. The school paid Mr. Panetta $150,000 in "consulting fees," he reported.

Mr. Panetta is set to appear before the Senate Intelligence Committee Thursday about his nomination.

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