Possible Senate candidate Harold Ford has been bashed by his likely rival for not disclosing whether or not he received a "taxpayer-backed bonus" from his job at Merrill Lynch. Turns out he didn't really need a bonus, because his unusual Wall Street contract promised him at least $2 million per year, regardless of his performance.

Two anonymous sources with "direct knowledge" of Ford's contract told the Times that the potential candidate started working for Merrill Lynch in 2007 with a guarantee that he would earn at least $2 million per year, before bonuses. According to the paper, Ford's pay is "not an extraordinary figure in the field," but it's odd for such a high salary to be contractually promised because "[m]ost of the eye-popping money on Wall Street" comes from performance-based bonuses. Ford has defended bonuses in the past, stating: "I believe that people take risk, and there are rewards if they do well; they should lose if they don't."

Bank of America, which owns Merrill Lynch, wouldn't comment on Ford's pay. Ford's spokesman, Davidson Goldin, also declined to comment on what he described as "speculation about a private citizen's pay," and urged Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand to disclose her salary when she worked as an attorney for tobacco interests (the year before she ran for Congress in 2005, Gilibrand reportedly made $509,000 as an attorney with Boies, Schiller & Flexner). Ford—who is currently taking a leave of absence from Merrill Lynch—is reportedly going to decide whether or not he'll run against Gillibrand on Sunday.