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Ex-governors head for the boardroom

By Laurie Bennett

January 17, 2013 at 8:20am

Where do governors go when they leave the statehouse?

They become consultants. They join think tanks. And they take seats on corporate boards.

The best connected hold seats at several companies.

Former Utah governor and presidential candidate Jon M. Huntsman Jr. is a director of Huntsman, Caterpillar and Ford.

Tom Ridge
Tom Ridge

Tom Ridge, former Pennsylvania governor, congressman and Homeland Security secretary, is on the boards of Exelon and Hershey.

We count 36 Fortune 1000 companies with an ex-governor on board.

Businesses are eager to grab them.

One of the most eager is Kansas-based NIC Inc., which has three former governors on its board of directors:

  • Daniel J. Evans, a former U.S. senator and governor of Washington, has been a board member since 1998.
  • Brad Henry joined the board in 2011, after his second term as Oklahoma governor ended.
  • Pete Wilson
    Pete Wilson
  • Pete Wilson, former U.S. senator and governor of California, also became a director the year his tenure as governor ended, in 1999.

Director compensation for the three in 2011 ranged from $53,465 for Henry, who joined the board in late October, to $108,729 for Evans and Wilson.

NIC’s interest in having former politicians on the board comes from its business model. It provides e-government services to local, state and federal agencies.

Its most recent annual report listed contracts for state portals with 28 state governments, including Oklahoma. The company also signed a contract with the California secretary of state in 2010.

We don’t find another public company with three ex-governors.

Continental Resources Inc., the Oklahoma-based oil and gas company headed by billionaire Harold Hamm, has two: former Oklahoma senator and Gov. David Boren and former Agriculture secretary and North Dakota Gov. Edward Schafer.

Continental Resources has operations in both Oklahoma and North Dakota.

Tree.com, the parent of LendingTree, briefly had one former and one future governor on its board. Patrick McCrory resigned in January before being sworn in as North Carolina’s new governor. Mark Sanford, a former South Carolina governor and congressman who joined the board last April, yesterday announced his candidacy for Congress.

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