Yesterday, Sen. Evan Bayh joined his colleague Joe Lieberman in suggesting that he may oppose health-care reform, citing concerns about the deficit. Bayh has long been one of the more conservative members of the Democratic caucus. But is his stance also affected by the fact that his wife has reportedly earned at least $2 million over the last six years as a member of the board of a major health insurer?
Susan Bayh’s affiliation with Indianapolis-based WellPoint isn’t news. But a new report on TheStreet digs into the details. It also finds that last year, Susan Bayh sat on four other corporate boards, in addition to WellPoint’s. She received over $656,0000 in cash and stock for all her board work, around half of which came from WellPoint.
As the site puts it: “Susan Bayh’s corporate directorships provide a significant chunk of the Bayh family income.”
It’s also worth noting that Susan Bayh was a mid-level attorney at Eli Lilly before joining WellPoint’s board in 1998, while her husband was governor. That suggests that the company, at least, may have felt that her value lay more in the access she offered to Evan Bayh than in her own accomplishments.
The report also notes that Susan Bayh tends to sell her stock in WellPoint very quickly, has never held stock in the company for longer than a year, and currently owns no shares. According to TheStreet, that suggests that her concern is less with the company’s long-term stock price — as might be expected for a member for the company’s board — and more with the opportunity to make money quickly and cash out.
There’s no way to know whether any of this affects her husband’s positions. Evan Bayh denies that it does, telling an Indiana paper in 2007:
I can honestly tell you that if my wife did not have a job, none, I can’t think of a single decision I’ve made that would be any different. I look at what’s best for our state and our country and my own conscience. My integrity matters more to me than anything, so I always do what’s right for the people who put their trust in me.
A spokesman for Evan Bayh did not immediately respond to a request for comment.