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State Treasurer Targets Exxon In Attempt To Ease Gas Prices

Posted May 31, 2006

— A possible candidate for governor in 2008 says it is time for the state to take on Exxon and the huge amount of money earned by its executives.

Exxon Chief Executive Officer Lee Raymond averaged $144,000 a day during his 13 years on the job and recently received a $400 million retirement package.

State Treasurer Richard Moore says that does not make sense when Americans and North Carolinians are paying billions of dollars for gasoline.

State workers own 11 million shares of the company's stock, but is it enough to reign in on what some consider corporate greed?

"To divert a total of almost $700 million into one person's pocket over the last 13 years -- I don't know how they can look in the mirror and say that person's worth it, so we are taking them on on this issue," Moore said.

The state retirement system owns 662 million shares in Exxon stock.

Moore says that to send a message, he will withhold North Carolina's votes for five Exxon board of director nominees who voted to pay the financial package to Raymond, who ranks No. 44 on Forbes Magazine's list of highest-paid CEOs.

"We don't have anything to do with this," Moore said. "That's what the board members say about the high prices in public, and they turn around behind the scenes and say, 'Hey, we're the greatest thing since sliced bread and we should pay our CEO a gazillion dollars.' Well, you can't have it both ways."

But is there anything to gain economically?

"I don't think it would have a major impact on the price at the pump," said Mike Walden, an economist at North Carolina State University.

Walden said supply and demand have much more impact on fuel prices than CEO compensation.

"Americans are spending at an annual rate of $300 billion on gasoline, so if you're talking about shaving someone's compensation by even $100 million, that's just a drop in the bucket," Walden said.

But Moore says he wants to start somewhere.


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