Mr. Rutledge, 63, stormed to the front of the pack after closing his company’s mega-merger, a $65 billion takeover of Time Warner and a smaller competitor.
For that, he got a big bump in pay. The year before, his compensation totaled $16.4 million.
This past March, Mr. Rutledge met with Mr. Trump in the Oval Office. The president lavished him with praise for a plan to add 20,000 jobs, although the broad outlines of that initiative had been laid out nearly two years earlier, when the merger was first announced.
This combination — the gains in pay for chief executives, the president’s pledge to deregulate and cut corporate tax rates — sets the stage for perhaps the most consequential moment for corporate governance since the financial crisis of 2008. Rising executive compensation only widens the gap between top executives and most American workers. Mr. Rutledge, for instance, made 2,617 times the average American worker’s salary of $37,632, according to figures maintained by the A.F.L.-C.I.O.