GOP Candidate McGavick Got Millions Leaving Safeco

June 19, 2006

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Mike McGavick collected more than $28 million upon leaving his post as an insurance executive earlier this year, financial disclosures show.

Most of that 2006 compensation from Safeco Insurance Co. was stock and options, his campaign said. McGavick had served as the Seattle firm’s chief executive since 2001, leaving early this year after a two-month transition period.

Washington state Democrats pounced on the tally, calling it proof their federal complaint about McGavick’s “golden parachute” was on the mark.

McGavick’s campaign dismissed that allegation as baseless: “They see the race getting close and these are very typical tactics, so we’re not surprised,” spokeswoman Julie Sund said.

McGavick’s 2006 Safeco compensation, detailed in reports provided to The Associated Press, includes about $23 million in stock and options. McGavick also collected a bonus of about $2.3 million for his work in 2005, the campaign said.

In addition, McGavick was given about $3.3 million in accelerated stock options for helping the company through its leadership transition and agreeing not to work for competitors for three years.

“He was providing legitimate and necessary services to Safeco,” deputy campaign manager Andrew Over said.

Democrats have used McGavick’s Safeco income to criticize the GOP challenger, who is trying to unseat first-term Democrat Maria Cantwell — herself a millionaire and former corporate executive at RealNetworks Inc.

The state Democratic Party asked the Federal Elections Commission in April to investigate McGavick’s compensation, arguing the multimillion-dollar package could amount to an illegal campaign subsidy.

“It confirms the illegal special-interest favor from insurance industry pals that will bankroll his campaign,” state Democratic spokesman Kelly Steele said of the disclosure.

McGavick still has not decided whether he will use his personal fortune to finance his campaign, which had about $750,000 on hand as of March 31. Finance reports showed Cantwell with $5.6 million on hand through the same period.

McGavick’s personal financial statements also included a separate batch of Safeco stock and options worth between $5 million and $25 million, and a “deferred compensation” retirement asset worth between $1 million and $5 million.

He had an array of other bank accounts and investments, a few topping $500,000 in value.

Under liabilities, McGavick listed an interest-free loan from Safeco valued at more than $1 million. The 2001 loan, due one year from the time he left Safeco, helped finance McGavick’s home, the campaign said.

Steele noted that companies are no longer permitted to make such loans, a result of 2002’s Sarbanes-Oxley federal business reforms.

Disclosures filed earlier this week showed Cantwell had assets worth at least $2.1 million last year. Cantwell’s assets could have been worth as much as $10.3 million, depending on the value of her stock in RealNetworks.

Wealth derived from the Internet media company allowed Cantwell to spend $10 million of her own money for her closely fought 2000 Senate race.

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