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Ex-Goldman Sachs (GS) partner Steve Mnuchin, co-founder of hedge fund Dune Capital Management, may be among President-elect Donald Trump's leading candidates for Treasury Secretary. But a closer look at his corporate ties raises questions about his willingness to take the job.
Mnuchin would be the third former Goldman Sachs alum to become Treasury Secretary, and if chosen, he and a large number of other Trump administration Cabinet picks would need to quit a wide variety of corporate board positions, according to a review by relationship mapping company BoardEx, a service of The Deal's parent, TheStreet.
Before taking on their new roles, the chosen Cabinet secretaries would also need to either sell investments or place them into a blind trust. Mnuchin owns about $100 million in CIT (CIT) stock, according to pay research firm Equilar.
As a result, many candidates may think twice before accepting a government job.
Giving up a board position typically means forgoing a lucrative pay package. According to the a report by the National Association of Corporate Directors and compensation firm Pearl Meyer, the median pay for public company directors was $186,610 in 2015, up slightly from $184,943 to in 2014. And for the largest 200 companies, that pay was actually closer to $266,000 a year in 2015.
If chosen, Mnuchin would need to resign from the boards of both Sears Holdings (SHLD) and CIT. Together with a consortium of investors, Mnuchin acquired IndyMac, a California-based bank that failed in 2008 during the financial crisis and was seized by regulators and renamed OneWest. It was later sold to CIT Group in a $3.4 billion deal that created another "systemically important" financial institution despite opposition from many Californians. Mnuchin would also need to resign from his position as chairman and CEO of Dune Capital.
Former GOP Rep. Eric Cantor and JPMorgan Chase (JPM) CEO Jamie Dimon both also may be in the running for Treasury Secretary. If chosen, Cantor would have to resign from his positions as vice chairman, managing director and director at boutique investment bank Moelis (MC) and Dimon would need to quit his CEO and chairman position at the too-big-to-fail bank.
The Trump transition team also reached out to buyout shop Kohlberg Kravis Roberts (KKR) founding partner Henry Kravis about the Treasury Secretary position, according to the New York Post. The private equity pioneer would need to quit a board position at First Data (FDC) as well has his roles at KKR if picked for Treasury.
According to Equilar, an executive compensation and board intelligence data provider, Kravis owned $783,076 worth of shares in First Data as of the end of its fiscal year 2015. At KKR, Equilar noted, Kravis owned shares worth about $109 million as of the end of fiscal 2016.
Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani would need to step down from his position as strategic adviser to identity-theft protection services company LifeLock (LOCK) if he were to be chosen for a Cabinet position. He would also need to quit a controversial and lucrative private sector career that has included big payments for speeches.
John Bolton, George W. Bush's United Nations ambassador, if tapped for Secretary of State would have to quit his director position at Diamond Offshore Drilling (DO) . He also would step down from an attorney position at Kirkland & Ellis and a role as senior adviser to Freedom Capital, which offers investment vehicles dedicated to "prosperity, security and freedom."
Newt Gingrich, a top Trump advocate also in the running for Secretary of State, would need to resign from few advisory positions, including one at Barrick Gold (ABX) .
Another candidate for Secretary of State, Richard Haass, would need to quit his director position at investment bank Lazard (LAZ) and step down from his president position at the Council on Foreign Relations.
Steve Hadley, a former National Security Adviser to George W. Bush, is considered a candidate for Defense Secretary. He would need to step off of the board of Raytheon (RTN) , as well as leave directorships at a couple of private firms.
Robert Grady, a former deputy assistant to President George H. W. Bush, reportedly on the short list for Interior Secretary, would need to resign from his position as partner at middle-market private equity firm Gryphon Investors and board positions at investment bank Stifel Financial (SF) and Maxim Integrated Products (MXIM) .
Mark Rosenker, the former chief of the National Transportation Safety Board and a candidate for Transportation Secretary, would have to resign from FlyHT Aerospace Solutions (FLY) and a few private company and consultant positions.
Wilbur L. Ross, Jr., a private equity billionaire best known for restructuring failed companies, is President-elect Donald Trump's leading candidate for Commerce Secretary. He sits on at least five public company boards he would have to leave, including the largest steel company, ArcelorMittal (MT) .
A rival for Commerce Secretary and former Nucor (NUE) CEO Daniel DiMicco would have to step down from his chairman emeritus position at the steelmaker and resign from his board post at Duke Energy (DUK) .
Having Ross as Commerce Secretary or in some other high-level government post would produce an "extraordinarily" complicated situation, said Norman Eisen, a fellow at the Brookings Institution and a former special assistant and counsel to President Barack Obama for ethics and government reform.
"The complex business affairs of Wilbur Ross send off a thousand red flares," Eisen said. "It would require heavy vetting, but it can be done and it was done it the past."
According to Eisen, the Obama administration required Cabinet secretary candidates to agree to resign from nonprofit boards before they could be nominated. If the Trump administration follows suit, its Cabinet secretaries would find themselves dropping many trustee and charity positions. For example, Mnuchin, if tapped, would need to resign from his positions at the New York Presbyterian Hospital, the Museum of Contemporary Art and the Los Angeles Police Foundation. Bolton would need to quit his position as a senior fellow at the right-leaning American Enterprise Institute.