Eric Holder, President-elect Barack Obama's choice for attorney general, will earn $4.6 million from his law firm this year and next, including deferred compensation and a separation payment.
In a financial statement provided to the Senate Judiciary Committee and made public Wednesday, Holder said he will earn $2.1 million in partnership compensation this year from the law firm of Covington & Burling. He will receive another $2.5 million next year in deferred compensation, partnership earnings for work performed this year and a separation payment.
Holder's total assets are $5.7 million. He listed no liabilities.
He has $1.4 million in cash and in banks, $1.9 million in real estate and $1.3 million in pension-and-retirement savings plans.
Holder may be Obama's most controversial Cabinet nominee because of his actions as deputy attorney general under President Bill Clinton, particularly his role in the pardon of fugitive financier Marc Rich.
Judiciary Committee Republicans are seeking a large amount of information from the Justice Department and Clinton's presidential library, a sign that the confirmation hearing beginning Jan. 15 will be contentious and have political overtones.
Confirmation hearings are one way that minority Republicans in the Senate can assert themselves.
The Republicans' document requests singled out the most controversial moves of Holder's Justice Department tenure, and they followed a GOP request to delay the hearing while Republican senators gathered more information. Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., moved the hearing from Jan. 8 to Jan. 15 — although he complained that Republicans were stalling.
The GOP senators asked about Holder's role in:
- The government raid in April 2000 that led to the return of a Cuban boy, Elian Gonzales, to his homeland over the objection of many Cuban-Americans in Miami.
- The investigation of a Democratic campaign finance scandal, connected to fundraising by then-Vice President Al Gore in the mid-1990s.
- The controversial pardon that Clinton granted to Rich on his last day in office in 2001.
- Pardons granted to two members of the radical Weather Underground and to Puerto Rican nationalists.
Pardon under scrutiny
The Rich pardon became the final controversy in a presidency filled with them.
Ordinarily, pardon applications go through a formal review at the Justice Department that includes checking with prosecutors in the case and takes many months to complete, but Rich's pardon never received such a review by Justice's pardon officials. At Holder's suggestion, Rich's attorney took that pardon application directly to the White House.
Holder eventually told the White House counsel that he was "neutral, leaning toward favorable" on the pardon, after being told former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak supported Rich's petition.
Rich's ex-wife, Denise, was a substantial Democratic donor and also contributed to Clinton's presidential library.
Holder later told a congressional committee he would have opposed the pardon if he had paid more attention to the case.
Leahy, the committee chairman, said when he postponed the hearing for a week: "It is disappointing to me that they (Republicans) are insisting that we delay at a time when the nation needs its top law enforcement officer and national security team in place and working."
The top Republican on the committee, Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, had sought an even longer delay to Jan. 26.