OLD FRIENDS: Mike Beebe, shown with the late Don Tyson on a visit to Springdale in 2007, has now joined the Tyson Board of Directors.
the giant poultry and meat producer based in Arkansas, has named former Gov. Mike Beebe
to its board of directors, a position that can be worth more than $200,000 a year. From the company:
Beebe, 68, was appointed this week and becomes one of eight independent directors on the ten-member Tyson Foods board. He was governor of Arkansas from 2007 to 2015, served as the state’s attorney general from 2003 to 2007 and was a state senator from 1983 to 2003.
“Governor Beebe’s extensive leadership experience, ability to collaborate and his long-time support and understanding of business are among the reasons he was recommended by our nominating committee,” said Chairman of the Board of Directors for Tyson Foods, John Tyson. “We believe his skills will benefit Tyson Foods as we continue to grow and become an even better company.”
“Our goal is for the Tyson board to have the right balance of skill sets and experience and we’re confident Governor Beebe will be an excellent addition to what is already a strong and diverse board,” said Robert Thurber, chair of the board’s governance and nominating committee.
“I'm honored to be appointed and look forward to working with the leadership at Tyson Foods, a great company that provides so much to so many,” said Beebe.
Since leaving office, Beebe joined the Governors’ Council for the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington, D.C., serves as an advisor to Arkansas State University and is of counsel to the Roberts Law Firm in Little Rock.
Beebe received a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science from Arkansas State University and earned his law degree from the University of Arkansas. He was involved in private law practice for 30 years and previously served on the board of trustees at Arkansas State University.
In addition to Beebe, Thurber and Chairman John Tyson, other members of the Tyson Foods board of directors currently are Gaurdie E. Banister Jr.; Mikel A. Durham; Jim Kever; Kevin M. McNamara; Brad T. Sauer; Tyson Foods President and CEO Donnie Smith; and Barbara A. Tyson.
Independent? Technically speaking, I guess. Beebe drew his chief of staff, Morril Harriman, away from a poultry lobbying job and has long been friendly with the Tysons, generally supportive of Democratic candidates but also pragmatic.
The job comes with money. In fiscal 2014, according to the most recent Tyson proxy available, an independent director was entitled to a minimum retainer of $80,000, but some received as much as $130,000 from additional pay as chair of board committees. Plus, each independent director received $125,000 in stock awards. This put total compensation for the independent directors from $210,000 to $236,000 in fiscal 2014.
Between this and state retirement pegged to three decades of service tabulated on his last three highest years of pay, as governor, Beebe should be able to scrape together a cart rental fee out at the Tyson's private Blessings Golf Course. Maybe even buy a round of drinks with his additional Social Security check. I don't know if the Tyson yacht is available to directors. That may only be reserved for members of the Arkansas Supreme Court such as Courtney Goodson, and her husband, John Goodson, the UA trustee and court's puppeteer.
Beebe issued a statement that praised Tyson as a "a great company that provides so much to so many." Uh huh.
PS: The prohibition on lobbying for two years after leaving elective office applies only to legislators.
PPS: State retirement pay is kept confidential. But you can roughly figure Beebe's benefits, the state retirement agency said, by giving him 40 years credit of legislative service (they enjoyed a double multiplier); 20 years as attorney general, which got a 2.5 multiplier, and 24 as governor, which gets a triple multiplier. 84 years of service times an average final pay around $80,000 or so (his three years of highest pay) and using the benefit calculator percentage around 1.7 percent, you'd get a monthly benefit of $11,000 to $12,000.