Even in the world of executive compensation, this one stands out. Lewis Coleman, who is president of Glendale-based DreamWorks Animation, received $5.6 million last year for his work as a director of Northrop - most of that going for "residential and personal security," according to the company's proxy. Just so you know, a director's compensation typically runs in the low six figures. The explanation for Coleman goes back to 2010 when Northrop was still based in L.A. From a filing:
We received specific information from Federal law enforcement officials that led us to conclude that there were threats to the Company and its principals. Based on that information and an ongoing dialogue with law enforcement officials, the Board of Directors has required that Mr. Bush, Mr. Coleman (who served as our Non-Executive Chairman when the threat was identified) and certain NEOs and elected officers receive varying levels of residential and travel protection. Mr. Coleman and [CEO Wesley Bush] receive additional protection based on the specific threat information. That level of protection was provided for a partial year in 2010 and for the full year in 2011. The security protection for Mr. Coleman in 2011 included housing him in a more secure residence and providing for his personal travel and travel required by his employer using Company-provided aircraft to ensure his security. Consequently, the cost of providing security for Mr. Coleman during 2011 was higher than the cost of providing Mr. Bush's security.
There's nothing wrong with taking extra precautions, but Northrop wouldn't provide information on what those threats were or whether they're still being made. Also, there are no specifics on what "housing him in a more secure residence" means, other than having bodyguards. It also should be noted that Coleman doesn't receive any extra security coverage at DreamWorks, which is his primary job. NYT columnist Steven Davidoff says that the $5.2 million includes about $1.5 million for personal travel for Coleman and his family. "Northrop Grumman even appears to pay to fly him in a private jet when he is traveling on business for his day job as president of DreamWorks Animation," says Davidoff. As it happens, Northrop receives a tax break for the costs of protecting Coleman and Bush (unlike other perks, which typically are taxable). As it also happens, most of Northrop's revenue comes from the U.S. government. So, one can argue that taxpayers are in effect paying for both Coleman's protection and for the company's tax break.