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March 05, 2004

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Mithras

Does Teresa Heinz Kerry have anything like functional control over the Heinz company?

Dave Covington

I'm also intensely curious about Teresa Heinz's contribution to the whole furor over Bush's WTC campaign ads.

Mithras

There's this thing called google. Try it:

Sometimes, Heinz wishes she had more influence at the H.J. Heinz Co., the international food company founded in 1869.

When Sen. Heinz died, he was the company's largest individual shareholder. The senator's death, though, effectively ended the Heinz family's involvement in the company.

Charitable foundations, endowments and certain family trusts bearing the Heinz name now control 2.15 million of the company's 354 million outstanding shares, or less than 1 percent. Teresa Heinz does not have a seat on the board.

On Wall Street, pressure is mounting for the Heinz company to boost its sagging stock with a merger. It is conceivable that a consolidation could force Heinz to relinquish management control and its headquarters.

"I don't have any real leverage," Heinz said. "I wish I did, but I don't. But it would be sad to think that Heinz could leave Pittsburgh. I think that emotionally, for Pittsburgh, we have had too many losses. It would be very sad, but it is not up to me."

Last year, Heinz considered building a new headquarters Downtown. When asked about that, Teresa said, "Why don't they stay on the North Side? Heinz Company is on the North Side."

You know, personal attacks on the Senator's wife work better if there is some substance behind them.

TM

Does Google answer the question of whether the Senator and his heiress cash their quarterly dividend check from Heinz?

Or is it only the CEO that is a Benedict Arnold, and not the folks enriched by his/her decisions?

And just to be clear, this is only an attack on Ms. Heinz if you think that the Senator has a good point in calling these CEOs "Benedict Arnolds". I do not.

Actually, I am attacking Kerry's patriotism - by suggesting that his stance against outsourcing might prevent companies from taking economically sensible stesps that, in the long run, keep them competitive and creates jobs, I am clearly saying that he is opposed to growth, a sound US economy, and a brighter tomorrow - in a word, anti-American.

Ands since lots of Vietnam veterans work for US companies, I am also making the scurrilious suggestion that Kerry is anti-veteran.

Man, do I feel terrible.

IceCold

While he may have been the largest single shareholder at the time, the late Sen. John Heinz was not active in the affairs of the HJ Heinz company during his Senate service. He focused on his Senate duties. He had worked for the company for a while just after business school. In the Senate his main interests were trade, technology export controls, and social security issues.

His diligence in avoiding any actions involving a conflict of interests affecting the Heinz company went to great lengths, sometimes amusing. In the late 80s an exotic item known as the North Atlantic Tuna Convention (a fisheries treaty) came up for ratification in the Senate. As the roll call dragged on beyond the allotted time, the relevant staffer for Sen. Dole (then Senate majority leader) buttonholed the relevant Heinz staffer on the Senate floor and asked (impatiently and reasonably) why his senator hadn't yet indicated how he would vote on this most routine of matters. The staffer explained that he was still trying to contact the general counsel for the Heinz company to confirm that tuna interests (Bumblebee, I think) of the company called for a "present" (neither for nor against) vote by Sen. Heinz. The Dole staffer was at first agog that something like the N.A. Tuna Convention could be a tricky vote for anyone, until the staffer for Sen. Danforth (Ralston-Purina heir) came up and said that his senator, too, would probably vote "present" due to tangential conflict of interest issues. Bemused smiles all around.

On the (bogus) topic of "exporting jobs," the senator's father had been the one to make Heinz one of the first global companies and global brands, with facilities and sources all over the world.

Given that the whole outsourcing "issue" is a scam and attempts to posture so as to gain from it are bad for the country, it is perfectly fair for someone to pose the unfair question to Kerry about his wife's late husband's company. The proper answer would be easy, but how would it look replayed on a TV ad shown in Michigan and Ohio?

Paul Zrimsek

Can we please stop quibbling about the Heinz family's 0.6% control of Heinz so we can get back to the far more important subject of Dick Cheney's 0.0% control of Halliburton?

Patrick R. Sullivan

Heck, Kerry believes in personal outsourcing. His wife is from Africa.

Mithras

And just to be clear, this is only an attack on Ms. Heinz if you think that the Senator has a good point in calling these CEOs "Benedict Arnolds". I do not.

Careful you don't trip while backpedalling there, McGuire.

Even if think Kerry has no point in his criticism, your line of attack was that he is a hypocrite because his wife is doing the same thing. You either didn't know or didn't care that she not doesn't have control over the company.

You want to attack the candidate, fine. You want to expand the attack to his family members, well - you better look at your guy's family before starting down that road.

My advice is, stick to substance.

TM

Backpedalling? Why do I even bother with caveats like question marks in the title?

As to "You either didn't know or didn't care that she not doesn't have control over the company", the correct answer is "don't care". Her half a billion is clearly going to be a small fraction of a company that (without even looking it up) must be over $10 billion. As I said, she cashes the dividend checks.

Or maybe she is a helpless victim of Heinz management too? Oh, I admit it - my point is that Kerry and his "Benedict Arnold" charge is some combination of nonsensical and hypocritical.

IceCold

TM, any nuance like question marks or quote marks, much less underlying irony, is apparently lost on some. Your hoisting of Kerry on his own silly petard was a direct hit. Not on anyone's family, but on a ridiculous statement by a presidential candidate.

While we're sticking to substance, let's just dispense with indirection and humor and label Kerry's "B.A. CEOs" and "speed bumps" ideas to slow outsourcing what they are: idiotic and offensive.

If one is going to mine the resentful know-nothing vote, at least be entertaining. Let's see Kerry wielding a sledge-hammer against a Toyota, a blow-up photo of a CEO whose firm has outsourced, and a life-size cut-out of a call-center employee from Bangalore.

Mithras

my point is that Kerry and his "Benedict Arnold" charge is some combination of nonsensical and hypocritical.

If you're basing the hypocritical charge on "cashing the checks", that's absurd. We all live in the same economy. Just because you receive a benefit from the way some actors behave in that economy doesn't preclude you from arguing that they should behave differently.

The "nonsensical" charge - actually, I have more sympathy for that position, although you haven't bothered to flesh it out. On the one hand, it is galling to see CEOs taking their companies overseas, reducing jobs and taxes paid in America, all while getting big tax cuts for themselves personally. On the other hand, I believe that freer trade produces higher income for everyone. "Buy American" has always been an excuse for expensive, shoddy products. It's a tough thing to promote, though, when it's not your job on the line, and you try to tell it to someone whose town's major industry has just packed up and left the country.

TM

On the one hand, it is galling to see CEOs taking their companies overseas, reducing jobs and taxes paid in America, all while getting big tax cuts for themselves personally. On the other hand, I believe that freer trade produces higher income for everyone.

It's prpbably unnerving for at least one of us how much we agree on.

Patrick R. Sullivan

"I'm also intensely curious about Teresa Heinz's contribution to the whole furor over Bush's WTC campaign ads."

Well, maybe Martha Stewart and Theresa are going to be cellmates, if this analysis turns out to be correct:

Weekly Standard

----------quote-----------
* All public communications that "promote," "support," "attack," or "oppose"
any clearly identified candidate for federal office--say, for example,
George W. Bush--whether or not the damn things "expressly advocate" his
defeat, and no matter when they're made during the political calendar, must
be paid for with hard dollars only. No money from labor unions or
corporations. And no checks for more than $5,000 from a billionaire. Who may
only write one such check to America Coming Together for this purpose each
year. The other $9,995,000 that billionaire has offered ACT are useless
here.

* If such a communication as described above should happen to mention, in
addition to the dastardly George W. Bush, some clearly identified candidate
for nonfederal office, too--or should it merely add a nasty swipe at
"Republicans" generally--well, sorry, that'll only get you so far. Somewhere
between half and three-quarters of the cost will still have to come from
your hard-money accounts.

* Same goes for voter-registration and get-out-the-vote initiatives.
(Incidentally, judging from their most recent FEC and IRS disclosure
filings, ACT and the other anti-Bush 527s haven't got any hard money to
speak of at the moment. They'll have to go raise it from scratch, competing
for donors directly with the Democratic national party committees--and with
the Democratic party's presumptive presidential nominee. Neither those
committees nor that nominee will be happy about it.)

* Oh, almost forgot. Only federally regulated contributions--in amounts no
larger than $5,000 per donor, per year--may be requested in fundraising
appeals that mention specific candidates for federal office "in a manner
that conveys" an intention to use the money in support or opposition to
those candidates. So you know how when you guys were up in Southampton last
summer, and you were talking to Mr. Soros about what you wanted to do to
defeat George Bush, and he told you he wanted to give you $10 million? It
looks like when you started taking that money, it might have been illegal.
-----------endquote-----------


TM

You know, a different, and almost equally meaningless direction to take this, would be to see if any of these "Benedict Arnold" CEOs are Vietnam veterans. We know how Kerry feels about attacks on their patriotism!

srt

Am I missing the point here? Kerry came out against foreign outsourcing; the quoted articles talk about domestic outsourcing. Not to hammer the obvious, but all sizeable American corporations outsource all the time.

Admittedly, one of the outsourcings mention was to IBM Global, but it's a stretch to call the foreign outsourcing. Heinz itself probably has foreign subsidiaries.

TM

Am I missing the point here?

I'm delighted to think that there might be one.

The first article did mention some jobs lost due to foreign outsourcing:

Heinz spokesman Robin Teets yesterday said the move will affect about 105 employees, including approximately 35 Pittsburgh -- roughly a third of the local information technology staff. Heinz employees have until next week to decide whether to take jobs offered by IBM Global Services, which Teets said is offering employment to affected Heinz workers for a "short term."

The work transfer to IBM Global, which operates development centers around the world including India, is to be completed by April.

I am assuming the folks being offered jobs for "a short term" are being advised to prepare their resumes.

I heard on the news this morning that IBM is being called "the Hatchetman", or some such - firms outsource to IBM (a fine American operation), which then outsources to India.

Hmm, instead of "Hatchetman", it should be "Heatshield".

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