Former Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) is pulling a salary of $750,000 a year as CEO of Trump Media & Technology Group, the company behind TRUTH Social, according to an SEC filing from last month.
The filing came not from TMTG, Trump’s company, but from Digital World Acquisition Corp. TMTG plans on going public by merging with Digital World, a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC).
Nunes’ base salary of $750,000 salary is a steep jump from the $174,000 he made as a congressman until he resigned his seat at the end of 2021. After two years on the job, Nunes is slated to get a raise to $1 million per year, per the filing.
The filing, which does not include a copy of Nunes’ employment agreement, offers a glimpse at the rest of Nunes’ compensation package. However, it lacks the details to piece together its total value.
A TMTG representative didn’t return TPM’s requests for comment and requests to review a copy of Nunes’ employment agreement. Nunes did not respond to attempts to reach him.
Nunes entered into the employment agreement with the Trump company on Dec. 6, 2021, the filing says. Nunes announced his plan to retire from Congress the same day. He resigned from Congress on Jan. 1 and began work at the Trump company on Jan. 2.
In addition to his base pay, Nunes is eligible to participate in any bonus plan the company has and will get an “initial incentive equity grant” of 145,000 restricted shares of TMTG’s common stock, subject to vesting over two years, the filing says.
I reached out to a few finance experts to get a better sense of what the stock grant means for Nunes.
Jay Ritter, a SPAC expert and professor of finance at the University of Florida, said that Nunes would be unable to access value in the shares until they vest and the merger goes through.
“That’s somewhere between $1.45 million and $7 million,” Ritter said, describing a range between the stock’s base price of $10 per share and Digital World’s current price of around $45 per share.
“But if the merger doesn’t go through the stock is going to be worthless,” Ritter said, adding that it would be up to TMTG to find another way of going public. “His incentives are aligned with Trump Media’s public stockholders.”
That may be pretty good news for Nunes. Even if the stock price, post-merger, plummets to $10 per share, that’s still a gain of $1.45 million for him. Not bad.
But others said that, at the moment, there’s nothing to suggest that Nunes has a stake in the juiciest part of the deal, the merger itself.
Richard Spurgin, a former investment analyst and finance professor at Clark University, told TPM that the “real money” in the deal lies in Digital World’s acquisition of equity in Trump World – that is, Trump selling TMTG to the SPAC for a cool $875 million.
It’s not clear that Nunes has been given any access to that part of the deal. Nunes’ shares will vest over the next two years, meaning he won’t be able to cash in on the value of the stock until then or at all if the merger fails to happen.
“I had expected his package to have more upside,” Spurgin said, noting that the specter of an ongoing SEC investigation could still tank the merger.
Nunes will also receive severance of “accrued obligations” plus six month’s worth of salary if he is terminated by the Company without cause or leaves for good reason, according the filing.