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Home / Featured News / Former Commerce Authority chief Don Cardon to receive $60,000 discretionary bonus

Former Commerce Authority chief Don Cardon to receive $60,000 discretionary bonus

Gov. Jan Brewer and Arizona Commerce Authority President and CEO Don Cardon listens to comments from a board member during the agency's final meeting before it officially transitions from the Arizona Department of Commerce to the Arizona Commerce Authority on July 1. (Photo by Ryan Cook/RJ Cook Photography)

Former Arizona Commerce Authority CEO Don Cardon will receive the majority of a $75,000 discretionary bonus from his contract, though private funds, not state money, will be used to cover the bill.

The ACA’s executive committee on Wednesday unanimously approved a settlement agreement for Cardon’s contract, which includes $60,657 of the discretionary bonus. The executive committee did not discuss the terms of the settlement, which were determined in a closed-door executive session in July. The details of the agreement were not publicly released until after Wednesday’s meeting.

Commerce Authority spokeswoman Nicole McTheny said the entire bonus will be paid by Team ACA, a separate non-profit associated with the authority that raises private funds for ACA-related activities.

Team ACA will also pay back half of the $50,000 signing bonus Cardon received after signing his three-year contract in August 2011. According to the settlement agreement, Cardon already paid back $16,267 of the signing bonus, and the remaining $8,732 will be paid back to the ACA through a payroll adjustment.

Cardon is Team ACA’s executive director, though he left the Commerce Authority at the end of June. He announced his pending resignation in January, about five months into a three-year, $300,000-a-year contract.

The amount of Cardon’s discretionary bonus was determined by a set of goals established by the ACA’s compensation committee last year. The three goals were to bring 9,000 new jobs and $500 million in new capital investment to Arizona, and to develop the ACA’s five-year plan.

The ACA determined that Cardon achieved nearly 81 percent of those goals, and awarded him a commensurate amount of his discretionary bonus. It credited him with bringing in 5,610 jobs and $401 million in capital investment, along with the completion of the five-year plan.

The executive committee also approved a 120-day pay raise for Sandra Watson, who has served as interim president and CEO since Cardon left on July 1. Watson, a 15-year veteran of the old Arizona Department of Commerce and the ACA’s second-in-command under Cardon, will receive a 15 percent pay raise for that 120 days, temporarily bringing her salary from $190,000 to $218,500.

Mary Peters, chair of the compensation committee, said Watson “is very capably filling in as the interim CEO.”

Peters said the compensation committee will revisit Watson’s salary if the ACA has not found a new president and CEO by the end of the 120 days.

The search may continue until after Watson’s 120-day contract runs out at the beginning of November, said Gov. Jan Brewer, who co-chairs the ACA board of directors.

“We still have a search going on and I imagine within three or four months or whatever, we will be able to make a decision just exactly who’s going to be the director of the Commerce Authority,” Brewer said.

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