Cheney 'Prepared' To Forfeit Options

Actress Jamie Lee Curtis and husband, director Christopher Guest, attend the "For Your Consideration" film premiere at the Director's Guild of America on Nov. 13, 2006 in Los Angeles. Guest directed the film.
GETTY IMAGES/Frederick M. Brown
Trying to pre-empt what could become a campaign issue, Dick Cheney said Friday he's "fully prepared to forfeit" millions of dollars worth of stock options from his former oil company.

Cheney made the statement as he prepared to release his financial disclosure forms and 10 years of income tax returns.

"In order to avoid even the appearance of a conflict of interest, I am fully prepared to forfeit any options that have not vested by the time I assume office," said Cheney, who recently stepped down as the head of Dallas-based Halliburton Co., the world's largest oil-services company.

Cheney, who was chairman and chief executive of the company, left with more than $13.6 million worth of stock and options, some of which could not be sold yet. Options allow someone to buy a company's stock at a preset price.

Some have urged him not to retain the options because Halliburton's stock price could be affected by actions taken by a Bush-Cheney administration. Unlike stock, options could not be placed in a blind trust, where the recipient has no control over his or her investments.

"It's a situation where national concerns are mixed with business concerns," Peter Eisner, managing director at the Center for Public Integrity, a government ethics advocacy group, said last month.

Besides his Halliburton stock, Cheney also holds options granted by Procter & Gamble, the giant consumer products company. They also would not take effect until after Inauguration Day.

Cheney said he would set up a blind trust if elected vice president.

He received a multi-million-dollar retirement package from Halliburton, the company he ran for five years. He retained options on more than a million shares he could buy at prices ranging from $21 to $54 each. But many of those options would take effect only after the inauguration.

The tax returns of Cheney, a former congressman and defense secretary, show what a difference the transition into the private sector made.

In 1990, while defense secretary under President Bush, he and wife Lynne reported an adjusted gross income of $225,196 and paid $47,332 in income taxes. In 1999, his last full year as head of Halliburton, Cheney and his wife reported an adjusted gross income of $4.4 million and paid $1.7 million in taxes.

Adjusted gross income is the amount of salaries, interest, dividends, capital gains, rents, and other income, minus deductions for things such as contributions to retirement plans.