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eBay Must Wring Out CEOs' Excess: Activist

Stocks in this article: EBAY

I took H-P's Hurd to task last week for spending almost $150,000 last year on personal air travel in H-P's jet and charging it to his shareholders.

So, I'm just flabbergasted seeing that Whitman spent more than $1 million on personal air travel in 2006. How do you do that? And how does Whitman and eBay's compensation committee justify trying to brazenly sneak that large expense report past shareholders, especially when the stock is tanking during the ginned-up, credit-fueled boom of 2006?

I don't follow California politics -- although I'm a fervent supporter of free market capitalism as advocated by Milton Friedman -- but I find it highly ironic and disingenuous of Whitman to portray herself now as a populist based on her time at eBay. According to a glowing Fortune profile of her political ambitions last March, the only "dirt" her critics have been able to dig up on her is that she voted in only half the elections for which she was eligible in the last decade. She explained it this way: "I was head down, building eBay, with two teenage sons and a neurosurgeon husband, and traveling half the time."

She was certainly traveling half the time -- for personal vacation jaunts, all paid by eBay shareholders.

In the last two years, perhaps self-conscious at just how embarrassing these numbers were, eBay decided to break up the personal air travel perks into two categories: purely personal travel and travel to outside board meetings. Whitman was on the boards of Procter & Gamble and DreamWorks Animation (DWA) in the last two years of her tenure. So some of her million-dollar expense went to shuttling her to L.A. and Cincinnati several times a year for these meetings.

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