Gov. Chris Christie’s continued his attacks on Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey on Thursday, including a criticism of the salary of Robert Marino, the chairman and CEO of the state’s largest insurer.Gov. Chris Christie’s continued his attacks on Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey on Thursday, including a criticism of the salary of Robert Marino, the chairman and CEO of the state’s largest insurer.
In describing what he feels is a current lack of transparency at Horizon, Christie personally named Marino and criticized him and other executives for taking excessive bonuses and “hiding behind” paid in-house and private lobbyists, while at the same time taking advantage of its nonprofit status.
As it turns out, Marino’s salary appears to be in line with his position.
Through a recent public records request, NJBIZ has learned Marino made a total of $4.5 million in 2016, including roughly $950,000 in salary, plus $3 million in bonuses, as well as other compensation.
This, according to some experts, is not a big number for a company such as Horizon.
Alan Johnson, of New York-based Johnson Associates, said the number may be big “in the real world … but it’s not unreasonable.”
“With the mess New Jersey is in, we need someone who is good; if he’s good, he’s worth it,” Johnson said of Marino. “It’s really a political issue.
“If (Christie) complained that Horizon is inefficient or wasting money, then hey, it’s a legitimate claim. But saying, ‘Gee, he should make a lot less because he won’t give me $300 million’ … the governor has no credibility on this stuff.”
Steve Forbes, who, in editorials, has recently weighed in on the issue of Christie attacking Horizon, told NJBIZ that Christie is out of line.
“Horizon is not a big Blue Cross Blue Shield company, it’s just on the line,” Forbes said. “The compensation is not out of line for a business of that size.
“(Christie) is just trying to arouse public opinion. It’s a cheap shot. I don’t see him going after football players or baseball players. He’s not concerned about the company, he’s just trying to find a way to raid the company.”