Former U.S. Surgeon General Richard Carmona earned more than $900,000 over the past year from an array of organizations ranging from a health resort and medical schools to Coca-Cola and the company that makes Taser guns.
Disclosure documents submitted by Carmona, the Democratic recruit for Arizona’s open Senate seat, paint a picture of a man with a diverse set of skills and interests who juggles 20 different positions while crisscrossing the country to share his knowledge with others — often for a hefty fee.
A high school dropout and child of indigent emigrants from Puerto Rico, Carmona served in the U.S. Army and became a decorated Vietnam veteran before returning home and attending medical school. Carmona trained as a trauma surgeon, became a deputy sheriff and SWAT team leader, and was eventually named surgeon general under President George W. Bush.
In 2011 and 2012, Carmona was paid almost $500,000 by Canyon Ranch, an upscale health spa resort in Tucson, Ariz., known for attracting big-name celebrities. Carmona serves as vice chairman of Canyon Ranch and president of its Canyon Ranch Institute, a health-oriented nonprofit that paid Carmona $117,000.
Carmona also took in $90,000 for serving on the board of the Clorox Co., plus $43,000 from Taser International, a company that produces electroshock guns and lists Carmona as a member of its board of directors.
Coca-Cola paid Carmona $5,000 for attending two meetings of its Hispanic Advisory Council. He was also compensated for board duties for the Health Leadership Council of Booz Allen, a Long Island hospital and a company that produces vitamins.
On the lecture circuit, Carmona received honoraria for speeches in Little Rock, Ark.; Madison, Wis.; Newton, Mass.; Chicago; and Austin, Texas. He was also paid a salary of $17,000 by the University of Arizona’s College of Public Health.
Carmona is the sole Democrat in the race to replace Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), whose impending retirement created an open seat that Democrats are bullish about capturing. Another Democrat, Don Bivens, entered the race before Carmona, but dropped out in March when it became clear that Carmona had locked up most of the Democratic establishment support.
President Obama personally called Carmona to recruit him to run for Kyl’s seat, as did top Senate Democratic leaders. Citing his Hispanic background and distinguished career in law enforcement, Democrats saw a candidate who stood a rare chance of statewide success in a state that hasn’t sent a Democrat to the Senate since the mid-1990s.
Rep. Jeff Flake (Ariz.) is the Republican front-runner for Kyl’s seat, but he faces deep-pocketed opposition from Wil Cardon, a businessman and former Flake supporter who is running against Flake in the primary.
Senate disclosure forms do not give exact values for lawmakers’ assets and liabilities. Instead, they report value ranges for each item listed by a lawmaker. The Hill researchers recorded the lowest number of each value range to calculate Carmona’s assets.
Carmona reported no liabilities in his financial disclosures.