Friday, August 03, 2012

Fiscal Transparency Needed:
Griffin's Pay at HRC, IRS 990 Disclosures

(Chad Griffin, executive director of HRC, at a June bon voyage party in Los Angeles before leaving for Washington. Credit: Karen Ocamb, Frontiers LA.)

I reread stories from when Chad Griffin was announced as the new honcho at the Human Rights Campaign, and didn't see his salary reported and that prodded me to send this note to him. It's not just his pay that needs sunshining, but a host of related fiscal issues at HRC that should be widely discussed. IMHO, disclosing his salary level, posting IRS 990s and announcing public forums could easily be done, and I'm cautiously optimistic Chad will agree and very soon brings much-needed increased openness to HRC. Here's the note sent to him earlier today:

Hi Chad,

The important matter of lack of full fiscal transparency at HRC is an item I want to put before you early in your tenure as the group's executive director, and request that you quickly address my concerns, many of which are not new to your staff.

Let's get to my numbered list.

1. It was not until the fall of 2010, after years of me nudging, that HRC and its foundation posted their IRS 990s on your site. My post about that campaign to get that smidgen of fiscal transparency is here.

Currently, on your annual reports page the 2010 990s for HRC and the foundation are posted, which is good to have a single year available for quick public inspection, but they are identified as "financial disclosures" and not as 990 filings. For consistency's sake, I ask that you label the reports as 990s.

Such is the way the San Francisco LGBT Community Center lists their tax filings on their site. Our local community center a leader in fiscal transparency in that they share nine years' worth of 990s. It took less than a handful of emails from me to the center's leader Rebecca Rolfe for them to adopt full fiscal sunshine principles.

Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays is another LGBT nonprofit sharing nine of their most recent 990s on the web.

Will you follow the terrific transparency of these organization and post nine years' of 990s for HRC?

2. Historically, HRC has signed off on its latest 990 in early August and if you're still doing so, and the 2011 filing is accepted by you from your accounting firm in a few weeks, will you immediately post the 990 to your site? As you may know, the day a nonprofit signs off on their 990 from their accountant is when that filing must be made available for public inspection when requested. Please commit to immediate posting of the 2011 filing.

3. I've heard gay grapevine chatter saying when you accepted the HRC job, your salary was not yet agreed upon. Stories about your hiring omitted mention of what your pay is and I'm requesting disclosure about your compensation package, info that will be available a year from now in the 2012 tax filing and that I hope you'll share now. What is your salary?

The 2010 filing on page 84 shows that Joe Solmonese earned $283,710 in his penultimate year leading HRC. When your new filing is made available for the public this month, we'll learn what Solmonese's pay was last year.

4. When you were in San Francisco during your first days as HRC's leader, you supported town halls here and regionally as a new form of engagement from the organization with the community at-large. I was happy to hear your words of support, and wish to learn what steps you are taking to hold your first full-fledged, properly promoted town hall in San Francisco? I have a few more questions to pose to you in a public venue.

Finally, I'd like to hear ideas of your own to expand fiscal transparency, accountability and democratic engagement from HRC. The organization's handling of these vital components needs a full public airing and need to be more robust.

What say you?


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